New Frontier of Exoplanetary Science: High Dispersion Coronagraphy

Ji Wang (Caltech)
May 19, 2017 - 12:15pm

Abstract

Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered, but only a handful of them are amendable for atmospheric spectroscopic study. Spectroscopy leads to understanding of physical and chemical processes taking place in an exoplanet. Spectroscopy of exoplanets can also detect biomarkers in potential habitable planets around other stars. The high dispersion coronagraphy (HDC) provides a pathway to search for biomarkers in planets around M dwarfs with next-generation ground-based extremely large telescopes (ELTs, e.g., TMT and GMT). The HDC combines high resolution spectroscopy (HRS) with a coronagraph operating behind an extreme adaptive optics (AO) system. The coronagraph spatially filters out starlight while the HRS spectrally discriminates starlight from planet light, reaching a starlight suppression level that enables biomarker detection. I will discuss a roadmap to achieve this ambitious goal. The roadmap consists of rigorous science cases at different stages of hardware developments, from existing facilities to future instruments on ELTs, and to future space missions such as HabEx/LUVOIR.