A reflective Gaussian coronagraph for ExAO: Laboratory performance

Ryeojin Park, Laird M. Close, Nick Siegler, Eric L. Nielsen, Thomas Stalcup

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

2 Scopus citations


We report laboratory results of a coronagraphic testbed to assess the intensity reduction differences between a "Gaussian" tapered focal plane coronagraphic mask and a classical hard-edged "Top Hat" function mask at Extreme Adaptive Optics (ExAO) Strehl ratios of ∼94%. However, unlike a traditional coronagraph design, we insert a reflective focal plane mask at 45° to the optical axis and used a "spot of Arago blocker" (axicon stop) before a final image in order to block additional mask edge-diffracted light. The testbed simulates the optical train of ground-based telescopes (in particular the 8.1m Gemini North telescope) and includes one spider vane and different mask radii (r= 1.9λ/D, 3.7X/D, 7.4λ/D) and two types of reflective focal plane masks (hard-edged "Top Hat" and "Gaussian" tapered profiles). In order to investigate the performance of these competing coronagraphic designs with regard to extra-solar planet detection sensitivity, we utilize the simulation of realistic extra-solar planet populations (Nielsen et al. 2006). With an appropriate translation of our laboratory results to expected telescope performance, a "Gaussian" tapered mask radius of 3.7λ/D with an axicon stop performs best (highest planet detection sensitivity). For a full survey with this optimal design, the simulation predicts ∼30% more planets detected compared to a similar sized "Top Hat" function mask with an axicon stop. Using the best design, the "point contrast ratio" between the stellar PSF peak and the coronagraphic PSF at 10λ/D (0.4" in H band if D = 8.1m) is 1.4 × 10 6. This is ∼10 times higher than a classical Lyot "Top Hat" coronagraph.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Adaptive Optics II
StatePublished - 2006
EventAdvances in Adaptive Optics II - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: May 24 2006May 31 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume6272 III
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherAdvances in Adaptive Optics II
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Adaptive optics
  • Coronagraph
  • Extra-solar planet
  • High contrast imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'A reflective Gaussian coronagraph for ExAO: Laboratory performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this