Terrestrial Planet Finding with a Visible Light Coronagraph

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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An invited review to appear in ASP Conf. Ser. 294, Scientific Frontiers in Research on Extrasolar Planets, ed. D. Deming & S.

Scientific paper

Directly imaging extrasolar planets using a monolithic optical telescope avoids many pitfalls of space interferometry and opens up the prospect of visible light studies of extrasolar planetary systems. Future astronomical missions may require interferometry for high spatial resolution, but given that the first direct imaging missions will probably fit into a single launch vehicle, the astrophysics of planet finding calls for a visible light coronagraph as the first space mission to search for extrasolar terrestrial planets. New coronagraphic techniques place the necessary dynamic range within reach for detecting planets in reflected starlight.

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