AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 102. Instrumentation for the Optical and Infrared
Display, Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[102.08] Desinging a Gaussian-Shaped Pupil Mask for High Contrast Imaging

J.H. Debes, J. Ge, A. Chakraborty (Penn State University)

One of the major obstacles in observing faint companions, especially extra-solar planets around nearby stars, is due to the diffraction pattern of the circular aperture telescope. Spergel (2001) proposed a novel aperture shape whose diffraction pattern creates a null along one axis of the image plane, achieving contrast ratios of 10-7 or better. However, many practical issues need to be explored in order to design such an aperture for a real telescope.

We present several numerical simulations of different gaussian pupil designs in order to determine the optimal design for current ground or space-based telescopes. In addition, we have experimented with a prototype gaussian mask on the Mt. Wilson 2.5 meter telescope using their high order adaptive optics in the near-infrared and present the results of those observations.

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