We describe a coronagraph approach where the performance of a Phase-Induced Amplitude Apodization (PIAA) coronagraph is improved by using a partially transmissive phase-shifting focal plane mask and a Lyot stop. This approach combines the low inner working angle offered by phase mask coronagraphy, the full throughput and uncompromized angular resolution of the PIAA approach, and the design flexibility of Apodized Pupil Lyot Coronagraph. A PIAA complex mask coronagraph (PIAACMC) is fully described by the focal plane mask size, or, equivalently, its complex transmission which ranges from 0 (opaque) to -1 (phase shifting). For all values of the transmission, the PIAACMC theoretically offers full on-axis extinction and 100% throughput at large angular separations. With a pure phase focal plane mask (complex transmission = -1), the PIAACMC offers 50% throughput at 0.64 λ/D while providing total extinction of an on-axis point source. This performance is very close to the "fundamental performance limit" of coronagraphy derived from first principles. For very high contrast level, imaging performance with PIAACMC is in practice limited by the angular size of the on-axis target (usually a star). We show that this fundamental limitation must be taken into account when choosing the optimal value of the focal plane mask size in the PIAACMC design. We show that the PIAACMC enables visible imaging of Jupiter-like planets at ≈1.2 λ/D from the host star, and can therefore offer almost three times more targets than a PIAA coronagraph optimized for this type of observation. We find that for visible imaging of Earthlike planets, the PIAACMC gain over a PIAA is probably much smaller, as coronagraphic performance is then strongly constrained by stellar angular size. For observations at "low" contrast (below ≈108), the PIAACMC offers significant performance enhancement over PIAA. This is especially relevant for ground-based high contrast imaging systems in the near-IR, where PIAACMC enables high contrast high efficiency imaging within 1 λ/D. Manufacturing tolerances for the focal plane mask are quantified for a few representative PIAACMC designs.
- Instrumentation: adaptive optics
- Techniques: high angular resolution
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science