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See detailSPHERE+: Imaging young Jupiters down to the snowline
Boccaletti, A.; Chauvin, G.; Mouillet, D. et al

E-print/Working paper (2020)

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating ... [more ▼]

SPHERE (Beuzit et al,. 2019) has now been in operation at the VLT for more than 5 years, demonstrating a high level of performance. SPHERE has produced outstanding results using a variety of operating modes, primarily in the field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems, focusing on exoplanets as point sources and circumstellar disks as extended objects. The achievements obtained thus far with SPHERE (~200 refereed publications) in different areas (exoplanets, disks, solar system, stellar physics...) have motivated a large consortium to propose an even more ambitious set of science cases, and its corresponding technical implementation in the form of an upgrade. The SPHERE+ project capitalizes on the expertise and lessons learned from SPHERE to push high contrast imaging performance to its limits on the VLT 8m-telescope. The scientific program of SPHERE+ described in this document will open a new and compelling scientific window for the upcoming decade in strong synergy with ground-based facilities (VLT/I, ELT, ALMA, and SKA) and space missions (Gaia, JWST, PLATO and WFIRST). While SPHERE has sampled the outer parts of planetary systems beyond a few tens of AU, SPHERE+ will dig into the inner regions around stars to reveal and characterize by mean of spectroscopy the giant planet population down to the snow line. Building on SPHERE's scientific heritage and resounding success, SPHERE+ will be a dedicated survey instrument which will strengthen the leadership of ESO and the European community in the very competitive field of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems. With enhanced capabilities, it will enable an even broader diversity of science cases including the study of the solar system, the birth and death of stars and the exploration of the inner regions of active galactic nuclei. [less ▲]

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See detailRefPlanets: Search for reflected light from extra-solar planets with SPHERE/ZIMPOL
Hunziker, S.; Schmid, H. M.; Mouillet, D. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2019), in press

RefPlanets is a guaranteed time observation (GTO) programme that uses the Zurich IMaging POLarimeter (ZIMPOL) of SPHERE/VLT for a blind search for exoplanets in wavelengths from 600-900 nm. The goals of ... [more ▼]

RefPlanets is a guaranteed time observation (GTO) programme that uses the Zurich IMaging POLarimeter (ZIMPOL) of SPHERE/VLT for a blind search for exoplanets in wavelengths from 600-900 nm. The goals of this study are the characterization of the unprecedented high polarimetic contrast and polarimetric precision capabilities of ZIMPOL for bright targets, the search for polarized reflected light around some of the closest bright stars to the Sun and potentially the direct detection of an evolved cold exoplanet for the first time. For our observations of Alpha Cen A and B, Sirius A, Altair, Eps Eri and Tau Ceti we used the polarimetric differential imaging (PDI) mode of ZIMPOL which removes the speckle noise down to the photon noise limit for angular separations >0.6". We describe some of the instrumental effects that dominate the noise for smaller separations and explain how to remove these additional noise effects in post-processing. We then combine PDI with angular differential imaging (ADI) as a final layer of post-processing to further improve the contrast limits of our data at these separations. For good observing conditions we achieve polarimetric contrast limits of 15.0-16.3 mag at the effective inner working angle of about 0.13", 16.3-18.3 mag at 0.5" and 18.8-20.4 mag at 1.5". The contrast limits closer in (<0.6") depend significantly on the observing conditions, while in the photon noise dominated regime (>0.6"), the limits mainly depend on the brightness of the star and the total integration time. We compare our results with contrast limits from other surveys and review the exoplanet detection limits obtained with different detection methods. For all our targets we achieve unprecedented contrast limits. Despite the high polarimetric contrasts we are not able to find any additional companions or extended polarized light sources in the data that has been taken so far. [less ▲]

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See detailReview of high-contrast imaging systems for current and future ground- and space-based telescopes I: coronagraph design methods and optical performance metrics
Ruane, G.; Riggs, A.; Mazoyer, J. et al

in Lystrup, M.; MacEwen, H.; Fazio, G. (Eds.) et al Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave (2018, August 21)

The Optimal Optical Coronagraph (OOC) Workshop at the Lorentz Center in September 2017 in Leiden, the Netherlands gathered a diverse group of 25 researchers working on exoplanet instrumentation to ... [more ▼]

The Optimal Optical Coronagraph (OOC) Workshop at the Lorentz Center in September 2017 in Leiden, the Netherlands gathered a diverse group of 25 researchers working on exoplanet instrumentation to stimulate the emergence and sharing of new ideas. In this first installment of a series of three papers summarizing the outcomes of the OOC workshop, we present an overview of design methods and optical performance metrics developed for coronagraph instruments. The design and optimization of coronagraphs for future telescopes has progressed rapidly over the past several years in the context of space mission studies for Exo-C, WFIRST, HabEx, and LUVOIR as well as ground-based telescopes. Design tools have been developed at several institutions to optimize a variety of coronagraph mask types. We aim to give a broad overview of the approaches used, examples of their utility, and provide the optimization tools to the community. Though it is clear that the basic function of coronagraphs is to suppress starlight while maintaining light from off-axis sources, our community lacks a general set of standard performance metrics that apply to both detecting and characterizing exoplanets. The attendees of the OOC workshop agreed that it would benefit our community to clearly define quantities for comparing the performance of coronagraph designs and systems. Therefore, we also present a set of metrics that may be applied to theoretical designs, testbeds, and deployed instruments. We show how these quantities may be used to easily relate the basic properties of the optical instrument to the detection significance of the given point source in the presence of realistic noise. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh contrast imaging for the enhanced resolution imager and spectrometer (ERIS)
Kenworthy, M. A.; Snik, F.; Keller, C. U. et al

in Evans, C.; Simard, L.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII (2018, July 27)

ERIS is a diffraction limited thermal infrared imager and spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope UT4. One of the science cases for ERIS is the detection and characterization of circumstellar structures ... [more ▼]

ERIS is a diffraction limited thermal infrared imager and spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope UT4. One of the science cases for ERIS is the detection and characterization of circumstellar structures and exoplanets around bright stars that are typically much fainter than the stellar diffraction halo. Enhanced sensitivity is provided through the combination of (i) suppression of the diffraction halo of the target star using coronagraphs, and (ii) removal of any residual diffraction structure through focal plane wavefront sensing and subsequent active correction. In this paper we present the two coronagraphs used for diffraction suppression and enabling high contrast imaging in ERIS. © 2018 SPIE. [less ▲]

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See detailA review of high contrast imaging modes for METIS
Kenworthy, M. A.; Absil, Olivier ULiege; Carlomagno, Brunella ULiege et al

in Evans, C.; Simard, L.; Takami, H. (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VII (2018, July 16)

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E- ELT) consists of diffraction-limited imagers that cover 3 to 14 microns with medium resolution (R ∼ ... [more ▼]

The Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E- ELT) consists of diffraction-limited imagers that cover 3 to 14 microns with medium resolution (R ∼ 5000) long slit spectroscopy, and an integral field spectrograph for high spectral resolution spectroscopy (R ∼ 100,000) over the L and M bands. We present our approach for high contrast imaging with METIS, covering diffraction suppression with coronagraphs, the removal of residual aberrations using QACITS1, 2 and Phase Sorting Interferometry (PSI),3 and simulations demonstrating the expected contrast. [less ▲]

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See detailMultiple rings in the transition disk and companion candidates around RX J1615.3-3255. High contrast imaging with VLT/SPHERE
de Boer, J.; Salter, G.; Benisty, M. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. The effects of a planet sculpting the disk from which it formed are most likely to be found in disks that are in transition between being classical protoplanetary and debris disks. Recent direct ... [more ▼]

Context. The effects of a planet sculpting the disk from which it formed are most likely to be found in disks that are in transition between being classical protoplanetary and debris disks. Recent direct imaging of transition disks has revealed structures such as dust rings, gaps, and spiral arms, but an unambiguous link between these structures and sculpting planets is yet to be found. <BR /> Aims: We aim to find signs of ongoing planet-disk interaction and study the distribution of small grains at the surface of the transition disk around RX J1615.3-3255 (RX J1615). <BR /> Methods: We observed RX J1615 with VLT/SPHERE. From these observations, we obtained polarimetric imaging with ZIMPOL (R'-band) and IRDIS (J), and IRDIS (H2H3) dual-band imaging with simultaneous spatially resolved spectra with the IFS (YJ). <BR /> Results: We image the disk for the first time in scattered light and detect two arcs, two rings, a gap and an inner disk with marginal evidence for an inner cavity. The shapes of the arcs suggest that they are probably segments of full rings. Ellipse fitting for the two rings and inner disk yield a disk inclination I = 47 ± 2° and find semi-major axes of 1.50 ± 0.01'' (278 au), 1.06 ± 0.01'' (196 au) and 0.30 ± 0.01'' (56 au), respectively. We determine the scattering surface height above the midplane, based on the projected ring center offsets. Nine point sources are detected between 2.1'' and 8.0'' separation and considered as companion candidates. With NACO data we recover four of the nine point sources, which we determine to be not co-moving, and therefore unbound to the system. <BR /> Conclusions: We present the first detection of the transition disk of RX J1615 in scattered light. The height of the rings indicate limited flaring of the disk surface, which enables partial self-shadowing in the disk. The outermost arc either traces the bottom of the disk or it is another ring with semi-major axis ≳ 2.35'' (435 au). We explore both scenarios, extrapolating the complete shape of the feature, which will allow us to distinguish between the two in future observations. The most attractive scenario, where the arc traces the bottom of the outer ring, requires the disk to be truncated at r ≈ 360 au. If the closest companion candidate is indeed orbiting the disk at 540 au, then it would be the most likely cause for such truncation. This companion candidate, as well as the remaining four, all require follow up observations to determine if they are bound to the system. <P />Based on observations made with ESO Telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under programme IDs 095.C-0298(A), 095.C-0298(B), and 095.C-0693(A) during guaranteed and open time observations of the SPHERE consortium, and on NACO observations: program IDs: 085.C-0012(A), 087.C-0111(A), and 089.C-0133(A). The reduced images as FITS files are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr</A> (<A href="http://130.79.128.5">http://130.79.128.5</A>) or via <A href="http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/595/A114">http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz- bin/qcat?J/A+A/595/A114</A> [less ▲]

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