The Gemini NICI planet-finding campaign: The companion detection pipeline

Zahed Wahhaj, Michael C. Liu, Beth A. Biller, Eric L. Nielsen, Laird M. Close, Thomas L. Hayward, Markus Hartung, Mark Chun, Christ Ftaclas, Douglas W. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We present high-contrast image processing techniques used by the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign to detect faint companions to bright stars. The Near-Infrared Coronographic Imager (NICI) is an adaptive optics instrument installed on the 8 m Gemini South telescope, capable of angular and spectral difference imaging and specifically designed to image exoplanets. The Campaign data pipeline achieves median contrasts of 12.6 mag at 0.″5 and 14.4 mag at 1″ separation, for a sample of 45 stars (V = 4.3-13.9 mag) from the early phase of the campaign. We also present a novel approach to calculating contrast curves for companion detection based on 95% completeness in the recovery of artificial companions injected into the raw data, while accounting for the false-positive rate. We use this technique to select the image processing algorithms that are more successful at recovering faint simulated point sources. We compare our pipeline to the performance of the Locally Optimized Combination of Images (LOCI) algorithm for NICI data and do not find significant improvement with LOCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number80
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2013


  • brown dwarfs
  • infrared: planetary systems
  • instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • methods: data analysis
  • methods: observational
  • techniques: image processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Gemini NICI planet-finding campaign: The companion detection pipeline'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this