Mid-Infrared Adaptive Nulling for the Detection of Earthlike Exoplanets

Robert D. Peters, Oliver P. Lay, Peter R. Lawson
2010 Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific  
Evidence of the habitability of nearby exoplanets could be found with future space missions using the technique of nulling interferometry. A nulling interferometer selectively suppresses the glare of starlight while allowing the light from planets to be detected. Here we report the first demonstrations of broadband mid-infrared nulling at the level required to enable such a space mission. In three separate 6 hr measurements, mid-infrared nulls were demonstrated at a mean level less than 1:0 ×
more » ... l less than 1:0 × 10 À5 using a 34% bandwidth centered at a wavelength of 10 μm. This was accomplished by "adaptive nulling," in which a deformable mirror is tuned to minimize wavelengthdependent phase and intensity differences in the interferometer.
doi:10.1086/649850 fatcat:34mjcxcz6vgzbhwuekn775tgza