The Messenger Telescopes and Instrumentation

NEAR: Low-mass Planets in α Cen with VISIR

  • Kasper, Markus [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Arsenault, Robin [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Käufl, Hans-Ulrich [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Jakob, Gerd [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Fuenteseca, Eloy [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Riquelme, Miguel [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Siebenmorgen, Ralf [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Sterzik, Michael [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Zins, Gerard [European Southern Observatory (ESO)]
  • Ageorges, Nancy [Kampf Telescope Optics, Munich, Germany]
  • Gutruf, Sven [Kampf Telescope Optics, Munich, Germany]
  • Reutlinger, Arnd [Kampf Telescope Optics, Munich, Germany]
  • Kampf, Dirk [Kampf Telescope Optics, Munich, Germany]
  • Absil, Olivier [Astrophysics Research Institute, Université de Liège, Belgium]
  • Carlomagno, Brunella [Astrophysics Research Institute, Université de Liège, Belgium]
  • Guyon, Olivier [Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA; Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Hilo, USA]
  • Klupar, Pete [Breakthrough Initiatives, USA]
  • Mawet, Dimitri [Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA]
  • Ruane, Garreth [Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA]
  • Karlsson, Mikael [Ångström Laboratory, University Uppsala, Sweden]
  • Pantin, Eric [CEA Saclay, France]
  • Dohlen, Kjetil [Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France]

Telescopes and Instrumentation

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.

Created: 2017-09-01/2017-09-30
5 pages

Cite this article:

Kasper, M., Arsenault, R., Käufl, H., Jakob, G., Fuenteseca, E., Riquelme, M., Siebenmorgen, R., Sterzik, M., Zins, G., Ageorges, N., Gutruf, S., Reutlinger, A., Kampf, D., Absil, O., Carlomagno, B., Guyon, O., Klupar, P., Mawet, D., Ruane, G., Karlsson, M., Pantin, E., Dohlen, K.; NEAR: Low-mass Planets in α Cen with VISIR. The Messenger 169 (September 2017): 16–20.