In the two decades since the first extra-solar planet was discovered, the detection and characterization of extra-solar planets has become one of the key endeavours in all of modern science. Recently, direct detection techniques such as interferometry or coronagraphy have received growing attention because they reveal the population of exoplanets inaccessible to Doppler or transit techniques, and moreover they allow the faint signal from the planet itself to be investigated. Next-generation stellar interferometers are increasingly incorporating photonic technologies due to the increase in fidelity of the data generated. Here, we report the design, construction and commissioning of a new high-contrast imager, the integrated pupil-remapping interferometer, an instrument we expect will find application in the detection of young faint companions in the nearest star-forming regions. The laboratory characterization of the instrument demonstrated high-visibility fringes on all interferometer baselines in addition to stable closure phase signals. We also report the first successful on-sky experiments with the prototype instrument at the 3.9-m Anglo-Australian Telescope. Performance metrics recovered were consistent with ideal device behaviour after accounting for expected levels of decoherence and signal loss from the uncompensated seeing. The prospect of complete Fourier coverage coupled with the current performance metrics means that this photonically enhanced instrument is well positioned to contribute to the science of high-contrast companions.
- instrumentation: high angular resolution
- instrumentation: interferometers
- techniques: high angular resolution