Laboratory demonstration of spatial linear dark field control for imaging extrasolar planets in reflected light

Thayne Currie, Eugene Pluzhnik, Olivier Guyon, Ruslan Belikov, Kelsey Miller, Steven Bos, Jared Males, Dan Sirbu, Charlotte Bond, Richard Frazin, Tyler Groff, Brian Kern, Julien Lozi, Benjamin A. Mazin, Bijan Nemati, Barnaby Norris, Hari Subedi, Scott Will

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Imaging planets in reflected light, a key focus of future NASA missions and extremely large telescopes, requires advanced wavefront control to maintain a deep, temporally correlated null of stellar halo—i.e., a dark hole (DH)— at just several diffraction beam widths. Using the Ames Coronagraph Experiment testbed, we present the first laboratory tests of Spatial Linear Dark Field Control (LDFC) approaching raw contrasts (∼5 × 10−7 ) and separations (1.5–5.2λ/D) needed to image Jovian planets around Sun-like stars with space-borne coronagraphs like WFIRST-CGI and image exo-Earths around low-mass stars with future ground-based 30 m class telescopes. In four separate experiments and for a range of different perturbations, LDFC largely restores (to within a factor of 1.2–1.7) and maintains a DH whose contrast is degraded by phase errors by an order of magnitude. Our implementation of classical speckle nulling requires a factor of 2–5 more iterations and 20–50 deformable mirror (DM) commands to reach contrasts obtained by spatial LDFC. Our results provide a promising path forward to maintaining DHs without relying on DM probing and in the low-flux regime, which may improve the duty cycle of high-contrast imaging instruments, increase the temporal correlation of speckles, and thus enhance our ability to image true solar system analogues in the next two decades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104502
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number1016
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Astronomical instrumentation
  • Exoplanet detection methods
  • Exoplanets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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