Direct imaging of exoplanets in the habitable zone with adaptive optics

Jared R. Males, Laird M Close, Olivier Guyon, Katie Morzinski, Alfio Puglisi, Philip M Hinz, Katherine B. Follette, John D. Monnier, Volker Tolls, Timothy J. Rodigas, Alycia Weinberger, Alan Boss, Derek Kopon, Ya Lin Wu, Simone Esposito, Armando Riccardi, Marco Xompero, Runa Briguglio, Enrico Pinna

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


One of the primary goals of exoplanet science is to find and characterize habitable planets, and direct imaging will play a key role in this effort. Though imaging a true Earth analog is likely out of reach from the ground, the coming generation of giant telescopes will find and characterize many planets in and near the habitable zones (HZs) of nearby stars. Radial velocity and transit searches indicate that such planets are common, but imaging them will require achieving extreme contrasts at very small angular separations, posing many challenges for adaptive optics (AO) system design. Giant planets in the HZ may even be within reach with the latest generation of high-contrast imagers for a handful of very nearby stars. Here we will review the definition of the HZ, and the characteristics of detectable planets there. We then review some of the ways that direct imaging in the HZ will be different from the typical exoplanet imaging survey today. Finally, we present preliminary results from our observations of the HZ of α Centauri A with the Magellan AO system's VisAO and Clio2 cameras.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISBN (Print)9780819496164
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAdaptive Optics Systems IV - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Jun 22 2014Jun 27 2014


OtherAdaptive Optics Systems IV



  • adaptive optics
  • extrasolar planets
  • habitable zone
  • Magellan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Cite this

Males, J. R., Close, L. M., Guyon, O., Morzinski, K., Puglisi, A., Hinz, P. M., ... Pinna, E. (2014). Direct imaging of exoplanets in the habitable zone with adaptive optics. In Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (Vol. 9148). [914820] SPIE.