Ground-based direct detection of extra-solar planets is very challenging due to high planet to star brightness contrasts. For giant close-in planets, such as have been discovered by the radial velocity method, closer than 0.1 AU, the reflected light is predicted to be fairly high yielding a contrast ratio ranging from 10-4 to 10-5 at near infra-red wavelengths. In this paper, we investigate direct detection of reflected light from such planets using nulling interferometry, and high-order adaptive optics in conjunction with large double aperture ground-based telescopes. In this configuration, at least 10-3 suppression of the entire stellar Airy pattern with small loss of planet flux as close as 0.03 arcsec is achievable. Distinguishing residual starlight from the planet signal is achieved by using the center of gravity shift method or multicolor differential imaging. Using these assumptions, we derive exposure times from a few minutes to several hours for direct detection of many of the known extra-solar planets with several short-baseline double aperture telescopes such as the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Keck Telescope.
- Instrumentation: adaptive optics
- Instrumentation: high angular resolution
- Instrumentation: interferometers
- Stars: planetary systems
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science