The Messenger Telescopes and Instrumentation
NEAR: Low-mass Planets in α Cen with VISIR
No. 169 (September 2017), 16–20
ESO, in collaboration with the Breakthrough Initiatives, is working to modify the Very Large Telescope mid-IR imager (VISIR) to greatly enhance its ability to search for potentially habitable planets around both components of the binary Alpha Centauri, part of the closest stellar system to the Earth. Much of the funding for the NEAR (New Earths in the Alpha Cen Region) project is provided by the Breakthrough Initiatives, and ESO mostly provides staff and observing time. The concept combines adaptive optics using the deformable secondary mirror at Unit Telescope 4, a new annular groove phase mask (AGPM) coronagraph optimised for the most sensitive spectral bandpass in the N-band, and a novel internal chopper system for noise filtering based on a concept for longer wavelengths invented by the microwave pioneer Robert Dicke. The NEAR experiment is relevant to the mid-infrared METIS instrument on the Extremely Large Telescope, as the knowledge gained and proof of concept will be transferable.
Cite this article:
M. Kasper, R. Arsenault, H. Käufl, G. Jakob, E. Fuenteseca, M. Riquelme, R. Siebenmorgen, M. Sterzik, G. Zins, N. Ageorges, S. Gutruf, A. Reutlinger, D. Kampf, O. Absil, B. Carlomagno, O. Guyon, P. Klupar, D. Mawet, G. Ruane, M. Karlsson, E. Pantin, K. Dohlen; NEAR: Low-mass Planets in α Cen with VISIR. The Messenger 169 (September 2017): 16–20. https://doi.org/10.18727/0722-6691/5033