Wolfram|Alpha: Systematic knowledge, immediately computable.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I See You!: How clever optics are letting us image planets around other stars.

A quick note on an interesting and very accessible paper titled "An apodizing phase plate coronagraph for VLT/NACO" that discusses the emerging technology used to allow direct imaging of remote planets that would normally be difficult at best due to the (relatively) overpowering brightness of the planet's parent star.

The meat of the result can be seen in the point spread function graph, lower right, on page two: note the distinct reduction of the Airy disk and associated diffraction pattern on the right section of the graph.

Check it out at: An apodizing phase plate coronagraph for VLT/NACO on arXiv.org.


  1. Read it, don't get it. I'm really interested in the chance of life on other planets (I do seti at home.) Any chance you could add to the post an explanation for dummies style overview of what and how they did this?

  2. Interesting. As an amateur asto nut, I wonder if we'll ever see this kind of thing at our level.
    I was not aware of arxiv - much cool stuff there!

  3. @ Rastro:
    Not for some time, I'd imagine: the rest of the equipment needed to effectively utilize this particular realization is well beyond any amateur level I've seen (I funded a 40" scope for an educational observatory, and that is too small to use this technology effectively). However, I presented a paper long ago showing that apodization of other sorts can be 'useful' in amateur instruments: certain combinations of central obstruction and observation target show benefits in particular aspects of the image verus unobstructed.

    Thanks for the comment

  4. @ December 16, 2010 3:59 AM :
    See your other comment / post - I put it there. Hope it helps.