S. Mark Ammons, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Trails and Dead Bodies: Directly Characterizing Extrasolar Planets with Adaptive Optics
Argonne Physics Division Colloquium - 2 Oct 2015
11:00 AM, Building 203, Room D120

A long-standing challenge has been to directly image faint extrasolar planets adjacent to their host suns, which may be 106 – 107­ times brighter than the planet. The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is the world’s most advanced high-contrast adaptive optics system on an 8-meter telescope for detecting and characterizing planets outside of our solar system. I will describe recent detections of new planets with the GPI, including a 2 Jupiter mass planet orbiting 51 Eri, the most Jupiter-like planet yet directly imaged.

GPI relies on an advanced Adaptive Optics (AO) system, designed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for correcting atmospheric turbulence and achieving contrasts exceeding 106 at 1-5 microradians. GPI has an apodized Lyot coronagraph to suppress diffraction and a near-infrared integral field spectrograph for obtaining planetary spectra. Several innovations in deformable mirrors and AO control theory, including recent developments in Linear-Quadrature-Gaussian control, have proven critical to GPI’s success. In this talk, I will discuss current performance limitations and provide a historical perspective on the progression of Adaptive Optics technologies since the early days.

Argonne Physics Division Colloquium Schedule