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High-contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope

Mennesson, B. and Hanot, C. and Serabyn, E. and Liewer, K. and Martin, S. R. and Mawet, D. (2011) High-contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope. Astrophysical Journal, 743 (2). Art. No. 178. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/743/2/178.

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We report on high-accuracy high-resolution (<20 mas) stellar observations obtained with the Palomar Fiber Nuller (PFN), a near-infrared ( 2.2 μm) interferometric coronagraph installed at the Palomar Hale telescope. The PFN uses destructive interference between two elliptical (3 m × 1.5 m) sub-apertures of the primary to reach high dynamic range inside the diffraction limit of the full telescope. In order to validate the PFN's instrumental approach and its data reduction strategy, based on the newly developed "Null Self-Calibration" (NSC) method, we observed a sample of eight well-characterized bright giants and supergiants. The quantity measured is the source astrophysical null depth, or equivalently the object's visibility at the PFN 3.2 m interferometric baseline. For the bare stars α Boo, α Her, β And, and α Aur, PFN measurements are in excellent agreement with previous stellar photosphere measurements from long baseline interferometry. For the mass-losing stars β Peg, α Ori, ρ Per, and χ Cyg, circumstellar emission and/or asymmetries are detected. Overall, these early observations demonstrate the PFN's ability to measure astrophysical null depths below 10^(–2) (limited by stellar diameters), with 1 σ uncertainties as low as a few 10^(–4). Such visibility accuracy is unmatched at this spatial resolution in the near-infrared and translates into a contrast better than 10^(–3) within the diffraction limit. With further improvements anticipated in 2011/2012, a state-of-the-art infrared science camera and a new extreme adaptive optics system, the PFN should provide a unique tool for the detection of hot debris disks and young self-luminous sub-stellar companions in the immediate vicinity of nearby stars.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Mennesson, B.0000-0003-4205-4800
Mawet, D.0000-0002-8895-4735
Additional Information:© 2011 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 August 19; Accepted 2011 October 26; Published 2011 December 2. This work was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA. The data presented are based on observations obtained at the Hale Telescope, Palomar Observatory, as part of a continuing collaboration between Caltech, NASA/JPL, and Cornell University. We thank the Palomar Observatory staff for their assistance in mounting the PFN and conducting the observations at the Hale telescope.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:circumstellar matter; infrared: stars; instrumentation: high angular resolution; stars: individual (alpha Boo, alpha Her, beta Peg, beta And, alpha Ori, rho Per, alpha Aur, chi Cyg)
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150526-160716486
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Official Citation:High-contrast Stellar Observations within the Diffraction Limit at the Palomar Hale Telescope. B. Mennesson et al. 2011 ApJ 743 178
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:57830
Deposited On:28 May 2015 18:51
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 21:55

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