The Messenger 141
– September 2010
use light diffracted from the Airy core of the central star to cancel out the coherentlight in the outer diffraction rings. Smallsinusoidal ripples of phase added to theincoming wavefront act like a simple dif-fraction grating, creating a pair of “speck-les” that can be adjusted to cancel outdiffraction on one side of the star, butreinforcing it on the opposite side. Mathe-matically adding many of these virtualgratings together forms the resultant APPpattern, seen in Figure 2. Its effect onthe Very Large Telescope (VLT) pointspread function (PSF) is seen in the com-missioning data in Figure 3. The APPoptical element itself is shown in Figure 4prior to installation.It is important to note that every imagedobject in the eld of view — includingany faint companions and extended struc-ture — all have this new, modied APPPSF. Since energy from the Airy core isused in suppressing diffraction, thereis an effective loss of transmission of thefaint companion. We have designedthe plate to use 40% of the Airy core uxto provide diffraction suppression, butthis loss of planet ux is more than com-pensated by the much larger reductionof diffracted light from the central star. The measured throughput for the APPis 0.60 with an error of 0.02, consistentwith the design specications.Since there is no focal plane mask thatthe target star has to be aligned behind,the greatest benet for a NACO user isthat there is no alignment overhead for the APP coronagraph. The target star can bebeam-switched anywhere on the imagingarray with no impact whatsoever on the
Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie,Heidelberg, Germany
University of Arizona, USA
In April 2010, a new coronagraphic opti-cal element, called an Apodising PhasePlate (APP), was installed in NAOS–CONICA (NACO). The APP coronagraphis optimised for use at 4.05 µm withboth narrow- and broadband lters.Unlike other types of coronagraph, itrequires no alignment overhead andcan be used immediately after switchingfrom direct imaging for observing tar-gets of interest where high contrast isrequired.
The Apodising Phase Plate (APP) is opti-mised for observations using the newlyintroduced IB4.05 lter in NACO (Roussetet al., 2003; Lenzen et al., 2003) and wehave also demonstrated its performanceat broader bandpasses around 4 µmwith the
lter (Kenworthy et al., 2010).In this article, we describe the principleof the optical element, how it can beused for NACO observations and explainits strengths and weaknesses. The goal of a coronagraph is to minimisethe diffracted light from one astronomicalsource whilst letting through as muchof the light as possible from a nearby,usually much fainter, source. The originalLyot coronagraph uses two optical ele-ments within an astronomical camera tosuppress light from the on-axis source. The image of the central star and anearby planet, for example, is formed ina focal plane (FP), where a mask blockslight from the star out to a given radius(see Figure 1). The planet is ideally dis-placed off to one side of the star, and thelight from the planet is not blocked bythis mask. Reimaging optics form a pupilplane (PP) image (often coincident withthe camera’s lter wheel) and a Lyot stopthen blocks light from the outer edgeof the re-imaged telescope pupil, beforegoing on to form the nal image usinganother optical element at the sciencedetector. Kasper et al. (2009) describedpupil-stabilised Lyot coronagraphy at4 µm with NACO for exoplanet detection. The classical Lyot design is sensitiveto the telescope’s alignment of the staron the focal plane mask and there is astrong trade-off between angular resolu-tion and achievable suppression: if theplanet is too close to the star, the planet’slight can also be blocked by the focalplane mask. Other coronagraphic designs,such as the four quadrant phase mask and phase-induced amplitude apodisa-tion, signicantly improve on the Lyotdesign, but still suffer from the tight tip-tilt alignment tolerances in the focal plane(for a review comparing many typesof coronagraph, see Guyon et al., 2006).How the APP works The Apodising Phase Plate consists of just one optical element, rather thantwo, in the pupil plane of the telescope.It is a development of phase apodisationcoronagraphy, originally developed byJohanan Codona at the University of Ari-zona (Codona & Angel, 2004; Codona,2006) and initially tested at the 6.5-metreMMTO (Kenworthy et al., 2007). Here, we Telescopes and Instrumentation
A New Coronagraph for NAOS–CONICA —the Apodising Phase Plate
APP coronagraphClassical Lyot coronagraphNo focal plane mask Mask blockscentral starFocal plane (FP)Pupil plane (PP)DetectorLower spatial resolutionReduced throughputLyot stop APP opticPlanetStar
A comparison of the principles used in the Apodising Phase Plate coronagraph and in a classi-cal Lyot coronagraph.