AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 77. The Promise and Pitfalls of High Contrast Imaging
Display, Thursday, June 7, 2001, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[77.03] Coronagraphy with the AEOS High Order Adaptive Optics System

J. P. Lloyd, J. R. Graham, P. Kalas, B. R. Oppenheimer (University of California, Berkeley), A. Sivaramakrishnan, R. B. Makidon (Space Telescope Science Institute), B. A. Macintosh, C. E. Max (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), P. Baudoz, J. R. Kuhn, D. Potter (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii)

Adaptive Optics has recently become a widely used technique to acquire sensitive, diffraction limited images in the near infrared with large ground based telescopes. Most astronomical targets are faint; driving astronomical AO systems towards large subapertures; resulting in a compromise between guide star brightness, observing wavelength, resolution and Strehl ratio. Space surveilance systems have recently been developed that exploit high order adaptive optics systems to take diffraction limited images in visible light on 4 meter class telescopes on bright (V<8) targets. There is, however, a particular niche that can be exploited by turning these visible light space surveillance systems to astronomical use at infrared wavelengths. At the longer wavelengths, the strehl ratio rises dramatically, thus placing more light into the diffracted Airy pattern at the expense of the atmospheric halo. A coronagraph can be used to suppress the diffracted light, and observe faint companions and debris disks around nearby, bright stars. Observations of these very high contrast objects benefit greatly from much higher order adaptive optics systems than are presently available to the astronomical commnunity. The National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research is sponsoring a program to conduct astronomical observations at the AEOS facility. We are presently developing an astronomical coronagraph to be deployed at the Air Force AEOS facility. We describe the coronagraph, and discuss the advantages and limitations of ground based high order AO for high contrast imaging.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jpl@astron.berkeley.edu

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