Abstract

Nulling interferometry, a proposed technique for dimming a star relative to its surroundings by destructively interfering the light collected by two individual telescopes [Bracewell, Nature 274, 780–781 (1978); Shao and Colavita, Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992)], has the potential to permit the direct detection of nearby extrasolar planets. However, because of the extremely high degree of symmetry required for useful levels of starlight nulling, the technique remains in its infancy. We present results of laboratory experiments with a rotational shearing interferometer that are aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of deep nulling at the levels needed for direct planet detection. Our first results include the successful nulling of red laser light to a part in 105 and the stabilization of the null leakage to a part in 104.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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References

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  1. R. N. Bracewell, “Detecting nonsolar planets by spinning infrared interferometer,” Nature 274, 780–781 (1978).
    [CrossRef]
  2. M. Shao, M. M. Colavita, “Long-baseline optical and infrared stellar interferometry,” Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992).
    [CrossRef]
  3. J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
    [CrossRef]
  4. P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
    [CrossRef]
  5. P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
    [CrossRef]
  6. M. Shao, “Hubble extra-solar planet interferometer,” in Space Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments, P. Y. Bely, J. B. Breckinridge, eds., Proc. SPIE1494, 347–356 (1991).
    [CrossRef]
  7. D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).
  8. P. Baudoz, J. Gay, Y. Rabbia, “Interfero-coronagraphy: a tool for detection of faint companions,” Vol. 134 of the ASP Conference SeriesBrown Dwarfs and Extrasolar Planets, E. L. Martin, M. R. Zapatero Osorio, eds. (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 254–261.
  9. E. Serabyn, “Nanometer-level path-length control scheme for nulling interferometry,” Appl. Opt. 38, 4213–4216 (1999).
    [CrossRef]
  10. E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.
  11. C. A. Beichman, N. J. Woolf, C. A. Lindensmith, “The terrestrial planet finder (TPF): a NASA origins program to search for habitable planets,” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 1999).

1999 (1)

1998 (1)

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

1992 (1)

M. Shao, M. M. Colavita, “Long-baseline optical and infrared stellar interferometry,” Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992).
[CrossRef]

1991 (1)

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

1986 (1)

J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
[CrossRef]

1978 (1)

R. N. Bracewell, “Detecting nonsolar planets by spinning infrared interferometer,” Nature 274, 780–781 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Angel, J. R. P.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
[CrossRef]

Baudoz, P.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

P. Baudoz, J. Gay, Y. Rabbia, “Interfero-coronagraphy: a tool for detection of faint companions,” Vol. 134 of the ASP Conference SeriesBrown Dwarfs and Extrasolar Planets, E. L. Martin, M. R. Zapatero Osorio, eds. (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 254–261.

Beichman, C. A.

C. A. Beichman, N. J. Woolf, C. A. Lindensmith, “The terrestrial planet finder (TPF): a NASA origins program to search for habitable planets,” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 1999).

Bely, P. Y.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Bracewell, R. N.

R. N. Bracewell, “Detecting nonsolar planets by spinning infrared interferometer,” Nature 274, 780–781 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Burg, R.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Casey, S. C.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Cheng, A. Y. S.

J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
[CrossRef]

Cheselka, M.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Colavita, M. M.

M. Shao, M. M. Colavita, “Long-baseline optical and infrared stellar interferometry,” Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Diner, D. J.

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

Fleury, B.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Gaiser, S. L.

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

Gay, J.

P. Baudoz, J. Gay, Y. Rabbia, “Interfero-coronagraphy: a tool for detection of faint companions,” Vol. 134 of the ASP Conference SeriesBrown Dwarfs and Extrasolar Planets, E. L. Martin, M. R. Zapatero Osorio, eds. (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 254–261.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Hardy, G. J.

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

Hinz, P. M.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Hoffman, W. F.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Hora, J. L.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Korechoff, R. P.

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

Lindensmith, C. A.

C. A. Beichman, N. J. Woolf, C. A. Lindensmith, “The terrestrial planet finder (TPF): a NASA origins program to search for habitable planets,” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 1999).

MacKenty, J. W.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Madec, P.-Y.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

McCarthy, D. W.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

McGuire, P. C.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Nguyen, H. T.

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

Petro, L.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Rabbia, Y.

P. Baudoz, J. Gay, Y. Rabbia, “Interfero-coronagraphy: a tool for detection of faint companions,” Vol. 134 of the ASP Conference SeriesBrown Dwarfs and Extrasolar Planets, E. L. Martin, M. R. Zapatero Osorio, eds. (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 254–261.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Rossi, E.

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Schmidtlin, E. G. H.

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

Serabyn, E.

E. Serabyn, “Nanometer-level path-length control scheme for nulling interferometry,” Appl. Opt. 38, 4213–4216 (1999).
[CrossRef]

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

Shao, M.

M. Shao, M. M. Colavita, “Long-baseline optical and infrared stellar interferometry,” Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992).
[CrossRef]

M. Shao, “Hubble extra-solar planet interferometer,” in Space Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments, P. Y. Bely, J. B. Breckinridge, eds., Proc. SPIE1494, 347–356 (1991).
[CrossRef]

Tubbs, E. F.

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

Wallace, J. K.

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

Woolf, N. J.

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
[CrossRef]

C. A. Beichman, N. J. Woolf, C. A. Lindensmith, “The terrestrial planet finder (TPF): a NASA origins program to search for habitable planets,” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 1999).

Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. (1)

M. Shao, M. M. Colavita, “Long-baseline optical and infrared stellar interferometry,” Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30, 457–498 (1992).
[CrossRef]

Appl. Opt. (1)

J Br. Interplanet. Soc. (1)

D. J. Diner, E. F. Tubbs, S. L. Gaiser, R. P. Korechoff, “Infrared imaging of extrasolar planets,” J Br. Interplanet. Soc. 44, 505–512 (1991).

Nature (3)

J. R. P. Angel, A. Y. S. Cheng, N. J. Woolf, “A space telescope for infrared spectroscopy of Earth-like planets,” Nature 322, 341–343 (1986).
[CrossRef]

P. M. Hinz, J. R. P. Angel, W. F. Hoffman, D. W. McCarthy, P. C. McGuire, M. Cheselka, J. L. Hora, N. J. Woolf, “Imaging circumstellar environments with a nulling interferometer,” Nature 395, 251–253 (1998).
[CrossRef]

R. N. Bracewell, “Detecting nonsolar planets by spinning infrared interferometer,” Nature 274, 780–781 (1978).
[CrossRef]

Other (5)

P. Baudoz, Y. Rabbia, J. Gay, E. Rossi, L. Petro, S. C. Casey, P. Y. Bely, R. Burg, J. W. MacKenty, B. Fleury, P.-Y. Madec, “First results with the Achromatic Interfero Coronagraph,” in Adaptive Optical System Technologies, D. Bonaccini, R. K. Tyson, eds., Proc. SPIE3353, 455–462 (1998).
[CrossRef]

M. Shao, “Hubble extra-solar planet interferometer,” in Space Astronomical Telescopes and Instruments, P. Y. Bely, J. B. Breckinridge, eds., Proc. SPIE1494, 347–356 (1991).
[CrossRef]

P. Baudoz, J. Gay, Y. Rabbia, “Interfero-coronagraphy: a tool for detection of faint companions,” Vol. 134 of the ASP Conference SeriesBrown Dwarfs and Extrasolar Planets, E. L. Martin, M. R. Zapatero Osorio, eds. (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 254–261.

E. Serabyn, J. K. Wallace, H. T. Nguyen, E. G. H. Schmidtlin, G. J. Hardy, “Nulling interferometry: working on the dark fringe,” in Working on the Fringe, S. C. Unwin, R. V. Stachnick, eds., ASP Conference Series (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999), in press.

C. A. Beichman, N. J. Woolf, C. A. Lindensmith, “The terrestrial planet finder (TPF): a NASA origins program to search for habitable planets,” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 1999).

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Schematic layout of our laboratory nulling interferometer with components labeled. Rooftops A and B are hollow, protected-Ag-coated rooftop mirrors, MA and MB are flat mirrors, BS is the dielectric-coated glass beam splitter, and COMP is the glass compensator. The double-sided arrow shows the mirror that is translated to modulate the OPD. Except for the last one, the red aperture screens are visual aids that highlight the two inputs and outputs and the beam paths in between. The beams arriving at each output can be traced back, by means of the two rooftop mirrors, to both input beams. In our experiments to date, only one of the two outputs shown is detected.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Photograph of our laboratory nuller. The beam splitter, compensator, 2 flats, and 2 rooftops of Fig. 1 can be seen. The maximum dimension is roughly 1 ft. The beam from the laser (not shown) is injected via a single-mode F/5 fiber, which can be twisted to adjust the input polarization state. The intensities of the two combining beams were balanced to a few percent (a prerequisite for N < 10-4) in three steps. First, the input fiber was tilted relative to the fixed optical train. Second, the output aperture was shifted laterally within the larger output beam. Third, for fine balancing, the beams in the two interferometer arms were mispointed slightly relative to the output fiber tip.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

OPD scan of the nulling interferometer. The plot shows the normalized nuller output power as a function of the OPD between the two interferometer arms. The input end of the F/5 output fiber is centered on the nuller’s output focal-plane pattern and subtends only the central part of the point-spread function’s main diffraction spike (the output beam arrives at F/16). The plot shows a continuous OPD scan of mirror A through an entire fringe. At the zero OPD position, a null depth of 1.08 × 10-5 is seen. The powermeter was used in autoscaling mode, and the sampling rate was 50 Hz.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Stabilized laser null. The plot shows the nuller’s normalized output intensity with the nuller OPD under the control of a position-dither feedback loop. The data-sampling frequency was 50 Hz, so that the plot covers 36 s. The initial plateau at unity normalized power was obtained by setting the phase of the feedback loop to lock on the constructive interference peak (maximizing power). The loop phase was then flipped by 180°, locking the feedback loop on null. The feedback loop minimizes power at the dither frequency. In contrast to Fig. 3, here the powermeter was used with a fixed gain. Because of the large dynamic range between the constructive and the null fringes, digitization noise is significant at null, even with a 16-bit digitizer.

Equations (1)

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N=ϕ/22=πxOPD/λ2.

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