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Imaging properties of rotating nulling interferometers

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Abstract

Nulling interferometers combine on-axis suppression with high angular resolution, making them ideal instruments for the direct detection of faint planets close to their parent star. The synthesized point-spread function for a rotating nulling interferometer utilizing phase chopping is shown to consist of a main peak, satellite peaks, and their associated sidelobes, and simple analytic expressions are derived for the modulation efficiency and angular resolution. Sufficient angular resolution is vital for the detection and characterization of multiple-planet systems and requires that some configurations be substantially larger than previously thought. The corresponding increase in stellar leakage has a major effect on performance and can be a deciding factor in the choice of array configuration.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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