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  1. Abstract

    Photonic lanterns (PLs) are tapered waveguides that gradually transition from a multimode fiber geometry to a bundle of single-mode fibers (SMFs). They can efficiently couple multimode telescope light into a multimode fiber entrance at the focal plane and convert it into multiple single-mode beams. Thus, each SMF samples its unique mode (lantern principal mode) of the telescope light in the pupil, analogous to subapertures in aperture masking interferometry (AMI). Coherent imaging with PLs can be enabled by the interference of SMF outputs and applying phase modulation, which can be achieved using a photonic chip beam combiner at the backend (e.g., the ABCD beam combiner). In this study, we investigate the potential of coherent imaging by the interference of SMF outputs of a PL with a single telescope. We demonstrate that the visibilities that can be measured from a PL are mutual intensities incident on the pupil weighted by the cross correlation of a pair of lantern modes. From numerically simulated lantern principal modes of a 6-port PL, we find that interferometric observables using a PL behave similarly to separated-aperture visibilities for simple models on small angular scales (<λ/D) but with greater sensitivity to symmetries and capability to break phase angle degeneracies. Furthermore, we present simulated observations with wave front errors (WFEs) and compare them to AMI. Despite the redundancy caused by extended lantern principal modes, spatial filtering offers stability to WFEs. Our simulated observations suggest that PLs may offer significant benefits in the photon-noise-limited regime and in resolving small angular scales at the low-contrast regime.

     
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  2. We present numerical characterizations of the wavefront sensing performance for few-mode photonic lantern wavefront sensors (PLWFSs). These characterizations include calculations of the throughput, control space, sensor linearity, and an estimate of the maximum linear reconstruction range for standard and hybrid lanterns with between 3 and 19 ports, atλ=1550nm. We additionally consider the impact of beam-shaping optics and a charge-1 vortex mask placed in the pupil plane. The former is motivated by the application of PLs to high-resolution spectroscopy, which could enable efficient injection into the spectrometer along with simultaneous focal-plane wavefront sensing; similarly, the latter is motivated by the application of PLs to vortex fiber nulling (VFN), which can simultaneously enable wavefront sensing and the nulling of on-axis starlight. Overall, we find that the PLWFS setups tested in this work exhibit good linearity out to ∼0.25−0.5 radians of RMS wavefront error (WFE). Meanwhile, we estimate the maximum amount of WFE that can be handled by these sensors to be around ∼1−2 radians RMS before the sensor response becomes degenerate. In the future, we expect these limits can be pushed further by increasing the number of degrees of freedom, either by adopting higher mode-count lanterns, dispersing lantern outputs, or separating polarizations. Finally, we consider optimization strategies for the design of the PLWFS, which involve both modification of the lantern itself and the use of pre- and post-lantern optics like phase masks and interferometric beam recombiners.

     
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  3. Abstract

    The direct imaging of an Earth-like exoplanet will require sub-nanometric wave-front control across large light-collecting apertures to reject host starlight and detect the faint planetary signal. Current adaptive optics systems, which use wave-front sensors that reimage the telescope pupil, face two challenges that prevent this level of control: non-common-path aberrations, caused by differences between the sensing and science arms of the instrument; and petaling modes: discontinuous phase aberrations caused by pupil fragmentation, especially relevant for the upcoming 30 m class telescopes. Such aberrations drastically impact the capabilities of high-contrast instruments. To address these issues, we can add a second-stage wave-front sensor to the science focal plane. One promising architecture uses the photonic lantern (PL): a waveguide that efficiently couples aberrated light into single-mode fibers (SMFs). In turn, SMF-confined light can be stably injected into high-resolution spectrographs, enabling direct exoplanet characterization and precision radial velocity measurements; simultaneously, the PL can be used for focal-plane wave-front sensing. We present a real-time experimental demonstration of the PL wave-front sensor on the Subaru/SCExAO testbed. Our system is stable out to around ±400 nm of low-order Zernike wave-front error and can correct petaling modes. When injecting ∼30 nm rms of low-order time-varying error, we achieve ∼10× rejection at 1 s timescales; further refinements to the control law and lantern fabrication process should make sub-nanometric wave-front control possible. In the future, novel sensors like the PL wave-front sensor may prove to be critical in resolving the wave-front control challenges posed by exoplanet direct imaging.

     
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  4. Abstract

    We present high-resolutionK-band emission spectra of the quintessential hot Jupiter HD 189733 b from the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer. Using a Bayesian retrieval framework, we fit the dayside pressure–temperature profile, orbital kinematics, mass-mixing ratios of H2O, CO, CH4, NH3, HCN, and H2S, and the13CO/12CO ratio. We measure mass fractions oflogH2O=2.00.4+0.4andlogCO=2.20.5+0.5, and place upper limits on the remaining species. Notably, we find logCH4< −4.5 at 99% confidence, despite its anticipated presence at the equilibrium temperature of HD 189733 b assuming local thermal equilibrium. We make a tentative (∼3σ) detection of13CO, and the retrieved posteriors suggest a12C/13C ratio similar to or substantially less than the local interstellar value. The possible13C enrichment would be consistent with accretion of fractionated material in ices or in the protoplanetary disk midplane. The retrieved abundances correspond to a substantially substellar atmospheric C/O = 0.3 ± 0.1, while the carbon and oxygen abundances are stellar to slightly superstellar, consistent with core-accretion models which predict an inverse correlation between C/O and metallicity. The specific combination of low C/O and high metallicity suggests significant accretion of solid material may have occurred late in the formation process of HD 189733 b.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  5. Abstract

    Vortex fiber nulling (VFN) is a technique for detecting and characterizing faint companions at small separations from their host star. A near-infrared (∼2.3μm) VFN demonstrator mode was deployed on the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer (KPIC) instrument at the Keck Observatory and presented earlier. In this Letter, we present the first VFN companion detections. Three targets, HIP 21543 Ab, HIP 94666 Ab, and HIP 50319 B, were detected with host–companion flux ratios between 70 and 430 at and within one diffraction beamwidth (λ/D). We complement the spectra from KPIC VFN with flux ratio and position measurements from the CHARA Array to validate the VFN results and provide a more complete characterization of the targets. This Letter reports the first direct detection of these three M dwarf companions, yielding their first spectra and flux ratios. Our observations provide measurements of bulk properties such as effective temperatures, radial velocities, andvsini, and verify the accuracy of the published orbits. These detections corroborate earlier predictions of the KPIC VFN performance, demonstrating that the instrument mode is ready for science observations.

     
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  6. Abstract

    We introduce a new framework for point-spread function subtraction based on the spatiotemporal variation of speckle noise in high-contrast imaging data where the sampling timescale is faster than the speckle evolution timescale. One way that space–time covariance arises in the pupil is as atmospheric layers translate across the telescope aperture and create small, time-varying perturbations in the phase of the incoming wavefront. The propagation of this field to the focal plane preserves some of that space–time covariance. To utilize this covariance, our new approach uses a Karhunen–Loève transform on an image sequence, as opposed to a set of single reference images as in previous applications of Karhunen–Loève Image Processing (KLIP) for high-contrast imaging. With the recent development of photon-counting detectors, such as microwave kinetic inductance detectors, this technique now has the potential to improve contrast when used as a post-processing step. Preliminary testing on simulated data shows this technique can improve contrast by at least 10%–20% from the original image, with significant potential for further improvement. For certain choices of parameters, this algorithm may provide larger contrast gains than spatial-only KLIP.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT

    Brown dwarfs with well-measured masses, ages, and luminosities provide direct benchmark tests of substellar formation and evolutionary models. We report the first results from a direct imaging survey aiming to find and characterize substellar companions to nearby accelerating stars with the assistance of the Hipparcos–Gaia Catalog of Accelerations (HGCA). In this paper, we present a joint high-contrast imaging and astrometric discovery of a substellar companion to HD 176535 A, a K3.5V main-sequence star aged approximately $3.59_{-1.15}^{+0.87}$ Gyr at a distance of 36.99 ± 0.03 pc. In advance of our high-contrast imaging observations, we combined precision High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) Radial Velocities (RVs) and HGCA astrometry to predict the potential companion’s location and mass. We thereafter acquired two nights of KeckAO/NIRC2 direct imaging observations in the L′ band, which revealed a companion with a contrast of $\Delta L^{\prime }_p = 9.20\pm 0.06$ mag at a projected separation of ≈0.35 arcsec (≈13 au) from the host star. We revise our orbital fit by incorporating our dual-epoch relative astrometry using the open-source Markov chain Monte Carlo orbit fitting code orvara. We obtain a dynamical mass of $65.9_{-1.7}^{+2.0} M_{\rm Jup}$ that places HD 176535 B firmly in the brown dwarf regime. HD 176535 B is a new benchmark dwarf useful for constraining the evolutionary and atmospheric models of high-mass brown dwarfs. We found a luminosity of $\rm log(\mathit{ L}_{bol}/L_{\odot }) = -5.26\pm 0.07$ and a model-dependent effective temperature of 980 ± 35 K for HD 176535 B. We infer HD 176535 B to be a T dwarf from its mass, age, and luminosity. Our dynamical mass suggests that some substellar evolutionary models may be underestimating luminosity for high-mass T dwarfs. Given its angular separation and luminosity, HD 176535 B would make a promising candidate for Aperture Masking Interferometry with JWST and GRAVITY/Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer, and further spectroscopic characterization with instruments like the CHARIS/SCExAO/Subaru integral field spectrograph.

     
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  8. Abstract Coronagraphs allow for faint off-axis exoplanets to be observed, but are limited to angular separations greater than a few beam widths. Accessing closer-in separations would greatly increase the expected number of detectable planets, which scales inversely with the inner working angle. The vortex fiber nuller (VFN) is an instrument concept designed to characterize exoplanets within a single beam width. It requires few optical elements and is compatible with many coronagraph designs as a complementary characterization tool. However, the peak throughput for planet light is limited to about 20%, and the measurement places poor constraints on the planet location and flux ratio. We propose to augment the VFN design by replacing its single-mode fiber with a six-port mode-selective photonic lantern, retaining the original functionality while providing several additional ports that reject starlight but couple planet light. We show that the photonic lantern can also be used as a nuller without a vortex. We present monochromatic simulations characterizing the response of the photonic lantern nuller (PLN) to astrophysical signals and wavefront errors, and show that combining exoplanet flux from the nulled ports significantly increases the overall throughput of the instrument. We show using synthetically generated data that the PLN detects exoplanets more effectively than the VFN. Furthermore, with the PLN, the exoplanet can be partially localized, and its flux ratio constrained. The PLN has the potential to be a powerful characterization tool complementary to traditional coronagraphs in future high-contrast instruments. 
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  9. The photonic lantern (PL) is a tapered waveguide that can efficiently couple light into multiple single-mode optical fibers. Such devices are currently being considered for a number of tasks, including the coupling of telescopes and high-resolution, fiber-fed spectrometers, coherent detection, nulling interferometry, and vortex-fiber nulling. In conjunction with these use cases, PLs can simultaneously perform low-order focal-plane wavefront sensing. In this work, we provide a mathematical framework for the analysis of a PL wavefront sensor (PLWFS), deriving linear and higher-order reconstruction models as well as metrics through which sensing performance—in both the linear and nonlinear regimes—can be quantified. This framework can be extended to account for additional optics such as beam-shaping optics and vortex masks, and can be generalized for other wavefront sensing architectures. Finally, we provide initial numerical verification of our mathematical models by simulating a six-port PLWFS. In a forthcoming companion paper (Lin and Fitzgerald), we provide a more comprehensive numerical characterization of few-port PLWFSs, and consider how the sensing properties of these devices can be controlled and optimized.

     
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