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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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    We report the confirmation of HIP 67506 C, a new stellar companion to HIP 67506 A. We previously reported a candidate signal at 2λ/D (240 mas) in L′ in MagAO/Clio imaging using the binary differential imaging technique. Several additional indirect signals showed that the candidate signal merited follow-up: significant astrometric acceleration in Gaia DR3, Hipparcos–Gaia proper motion anomaly, and overluminosity compared to single main-sequence stars. We confirmed the companion, HIP 67506 C, at 0.1 arcsec with MagAO-X in 2022 April. We characterized HIP 67506 C MagAO-X photometry and astrometry, and estimated spectral-type K7-M2; we also re-evaluated HIP 67506 A in light of the close companion. Additionally, we show that a previously identified 9 arcsec companion, HIP 67506 B, is a much further distant unassociated background star. We also discuss the utility of indirect signposts in identifying small inner working angle candidate companions.

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  5. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
    Inner working angle is a key parameter for enabling scientific discovery in direct exoplanet imaging and characterization. Approaches to improving the inner working angle to reach the diffraction limit center on the sensing and control of wavefront errors, starlight suppression via coronagraphy, and differential techniques applied in post-processing. These approaches are ultimately limited by the shot noise of the residual starlight, placing a premium on the ability of the adaptive optics system to sense and control wavefront errors so that the coronagraph can effectively suppress starlight reaching the science focal plane. Photonic lanterns are attractive for use in the science focal plane because of their ability to spatially filter light using a finite basis of accepted modes and effectively couple the results to diffraction-limited spectrometers, providing a compact and cost-effective means to implement post-processing based on spectral diversity. We aim to characterize the ability of photonic lanterns to serve as focal-plane wavefront sensors, allowing the adaptive optics system to control aberrations affecting the science focal plane and reject additional stellar photon noise. By serving as focal-plane wavefront sensors, photonic lanterns can improve sensitivity to exoplanets through both direct and coronagraphic observations. We have studied the sensing capabilities of photonic lanterns in the linear and quadratic regimes with analytical and numerical treatments for different lantern geometries (including non-mode-selective, mode-selective, and hybrid geometries) as a function of port number. In this presentation we report on the sensitivity of such lanterns and comment on the relative suitability and sensitivity impacts of different lantern geometries for focal-plane wavefront sensing. 
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  6. Schmidt, Dirk ; Schreiber, Laura ; Vernet, Elise (Ed.)
    A focal plane wavefront sensor offers major advantages to adaptive optics, including removal of non-commonpath error and providing sensitivity to blind modes (such as petalling). But simply using the observed point spread function (PSF) is not sufficient for wavefront correction, as only the intensity, not phase, is measured. Here we demonstrate the use of a multimode fiber mode converter (photonic lantern) to directly measure the wavefront phase and amplitude at the focal plane. Starlight is injected into a multimode fiber at the image plane, with the combination of modes excited within the fiber a function of the phase and amplitude of the incident wavefront. The fiber undergoes an adiabatic transition into a set of multiple, single-mode outputs, such that the distribution of intensities between them encodes the incident wavefront. The mapping (which may be strongly non-linear) between spatial modes in the PSF and the outputs is stable but must be learned. This is done by a deep neural network, trained by applying random combinations of spatial modes to the deformable mirror. Once trained, the neural network can instantaneously predict the incident wavefront for any set of output intensities. We demonstrate the successful reconstruction of wavefronts produced in the laboratory with low-wind-effect, and an on-sky demonstration of reconstruction of low-order modes consistent with those measured by the existing pyramid wavefront sensor, using SCExAO observations at the Subaru Telescope. 
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  7. Geyl, Roland ; Navarro, Ramón (Ed.)
    Efficiently coupling light from large telescopes to photonic devices is challenging. However, overcoming this challenge would enable diffraction-limited instruments, which offer significant miniaturization and advantages in thermo-mechanical stability. By coupling photonic lanterns with high performance adaptive optics systems, we recently demonstrated through simulation that high throughput diffraction-limited instruments are possible (Lin et al., Applied Optics, 2021). Here we build on that work and present initial results from validation experiments in the near-infrared to corroborate those simulations in the laboratory. Our experiments are conducted using a 19-port photonic lantern coupled to the state-of-the-art SCExAO instrument at the Subaru Telescope. The SCExAO instrument allows us to vary the alignment and focal ratio of the lantern injection, as well as the Strehl ratio and amount of tip/tilt jitter in the beam. In this work, we present experimental characterizations against the aforementioned parameters, in order to compare with previous simulations and elucidate optimal architectures for lantern-fed spectrographs. 
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  8. One of the top priorities in observational astronomy is the direct imaging and characterization of extrasolar planets (exoplanets) and planetary systems. Direct images of rocky exoplanets are of particular interest in the search for life beyond the Earth, but they tend to be rather challenging targets since they are orders-of-magnitude dimmer than their host stars and are separated by small angular distances that are comparable to the classicalλ<#comment/>/Ddiffraction limit, even for the coming generation of 30 m class telescopes. Current and planned efforts for ground-based direct imaging of exoplanets combine high-order adaptive optics (AO) with a stellar coronagraph observing at wavelengths ranging from the visible to the mid-IR. The primary barrier to achieving high contrast with current direct imaging methods is quasi-static speckles, caused largely by non-common path aberrations (NCPAs) in the coronagraph optical train. Recent work has demonstrated that millisecond imaging, which effectively “freezes” the atmosphere’s turbulent phase screens, should allow the wavefront sensor (WFS) telemetry to be used as a probe of the optical system to measure NCPAs. Starting with a realistic model of a telescope with an AO system and a stellar coronagraph, this paper provides simulations of several closely related regression models that take advantage of millisecond telemetry from the WFS and coronagraph’s science camera. The simplest regression model, called the naïve estimator, does not treat the noise and other sources of information loss in the WFS. Despite its flaws, in one of the simulations presented herein, the naïve estimator provides a useful estimate of an NCPA of∼<#comment/>0.5radian RMS (≈<#comment/>λ<#comment/>/13), with an accuracy of∼<#comment/>0.06radian RMS in 1 min of simulated sky time on a magnitude 8 star. Thebias-corrected estimatorgeneralizes the regression model to account for the noise and information loss in the WFS. A simulation of the bias-corrected estimator with 4 min of sky time included an NCPA of∼<#comment/>0.05radian RMS (≈<#comment/>λ<#comment/>/130) and an extended exoplanet scene. The joint regression of the bias-corrected estimator simultaneously achieved an NCPA estimate with an accuracy of∼<#comment/>5×<#comment/>10−<#comment/>3radian RMS and an estimate of the exoplanet scene that was free of the self-subtraction artifacts typically associated with differential imaging. The5σ<#comment/>contrast achieved by imaging of the exoplanet scene was∼<#comment/>1.7×<#comment/>10−<#comment/>4at a distance of3λ<#comment/>/Dfrom the star and∼<#comment/>2.1×<#comment/>10−<#comment/>5at10λ<#comment/>/D. These contrast values are comparable to the very best on-sky results obtained from multi-wavelength observations that employ both angular differential imaging (ADI) and spectral differential imaging (SDI). This comparable performance is despite the fact that our simulations are quasi-monochromatic, which makes SDI impossible, nor do they have diurnal field rotation, which makes ADI impossible. The error covariance matrix of the joint regression shows substantial correlations in the exoplanet and NCPA estimation errors, indicating that exoplanet intensity and NCPA need to be estimated self-consistently to achieve high contrast.

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  9. Abstract

    Benchmark brown dwarf companions with well-determined ages and model-independent masses are powerful tools to test substellar evolutionary models and probe the formation of giant planets and brown dwarfs. Here, we report the independent discovery of HIP 21152 B, the first imaged brown dwarf companion in the Hyades, and conduct a comprehensive orbital and atmospheric characterization of the system. HIP 21152 was targeted in an ongoing high-contrast imaging campaign of stars exhibiting proper-motion changes between Hipparcos and Gaia, and was also recently identified by Bonavita et al. (2022) and Kuzuhara et al. (2022). Our Keck/NIRC2 and SCExAO/CHARIS imaging of HIP 21152 revealed a comoving companion at a separation of 0.″37 (16 au). We perform a joint orbit fit of all available relative astrometry and radial velocities together with the Hipparcos-Gaia proper motions, yielding a dynamical mass of244+6MJup, which is 1–2σlower than evolutionary model predictions. Hybrid grids that include the evolution of cloud properties best reproduce the dynamical mass. We also identify a comoving wide-separation (1837″ or 7.9 × 104au) early-L dwarf with an inferred mass near the hydrogen-burning limit. Finally, we analyze the spectra and photometry of HIP 21152 B using the Saumon & Marley (2008) atmospheric models and a suite of retrievals. The best-fit grid-based models havefsed= 2, indicating the presence of clouds,Teff= 1400 K, andlogg=4.5dex. These results are consistent with the object’s spectral type of T0 ± 1. As the first benchmark brown dwarf companion in the Hyades, HIP 21152 B joins the small but growing number of substellar companions with well-determined ages and dynamical masses.

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  10. Abstract

    We present the direct imaging discovery of a low-mass companion to the nearby accelerating F star, HIP 5319, using SCExAO coupled with the CHARIS, VAMPIRES, and MEC instruments in addition to Keck/NIRC2 imaging. CHARISJHK(1.1–2.4μm) spectroscopic data combined with VAMPIRES 750 nm, MECY, and NIRC2Lpphotometry is best matched by an M3–M7 object with an effective temperature ofT= 3200 K and surface gravity log(g) = 5.5. Using the relative astrometry for HIP 5319 B from CHARIS and NIRC2, and absolute astrometry for the primary from Gaia and Hipparcos, and adopting a log-normal prior assumption for the companion mass, we measure a dynamical mass for HIP 5319 B of3111+35MJ, a semimajor axis of18.64.1+10au, an inclination of69.415+5.6degrees, and an eccentricity of0.420.29+0.39. However, using an alternate prior for our dynamical model yields a much higher mass of12888+127MJ. Using data taken with the LCOGT NRES instrument we also show that the primary HIP 5319 A is a single star in contrast to previous characterizations of the system as a spectroscopic binary. This work underscores the importance of assumed priors in dynamical models for companions detected with imaging and astrometry, and the need to have an updated inventory of system measurements.

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