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First results of nulling interferometry with the Multiple Mirror Telescope

By P.M. Hinz, J.R.P. Angel, W.F. Hoffmann, W. F. Ho Mann A, D.W. McCarthy Jr., P.C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J.L. Hora and N.J. Woolf

Abstract

Wehave successfully used nulling interferometry at 10 #mwavelength to interferometrically suppress a star's radiation. This technique was #rst proposed by Bracewell 20 years ago to image extra-solar planets 1 and is now the basis for proposed space-borne instruments to search for Earth-like extra-solar planets and their spectroscopic signatures of habitability and life 2;3;4 . In our experiment, the beams from two 1.8 m telescopes of the Multiple Mirror Telescope were broughtinto registration at a semi-transparent beamsplitter, and the images made coincidenton an infrared array detector capable of taking rapid short exposure images. The atmospheric #uctuations caused the phase di#erence between the beams to #uctuate, changing the total #ux of the star seen in the image plane. When the atmosphere caused the wavefronts to be exactly out of phase the entire stellar Airy pattern disappeared. For the unresolved star # Tauri the cancellation was such that a companion only 0.2 arcsec fro..

Topics: Nulling, Interferometry, extra-solar planet detection
Year: 1998
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.36.1720
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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