A high sensitivity polarimeter for the direct detection and characterisation of extra-solar planets

J. H. Hough*, P. W. Lucas, J. A. Bailey, M. Tamura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

We are constructing a high sensitivity optical polarimeter capable of detecting fractional polarization levels below 10-6. The science goal is to directly detect extra-solar planets (ESP), in contrast to the indirect methods such as radial velocity measurements. The polarimeter will detect starlight scattered from the atmosphere of the planet as a polarisation signal thereby giving information on the planetary atmospheres. The radius of the planet and the planet temperature can be determined from the measured albedo. The position angle of polarisation will enable the mass of planets, detected through radial velocity measurements, to be determined without the uncertainty of the orbit inclination (Msini). The polarimeter has an essentially simple and classical design but is able to take advantage, inter alia, of modern detector technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume4843
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Avalanche photodiodes
  • Optical
  • Photoeleastic modulators
  • Planet detection
  • Polarimeter

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