Planet Formation at High Resolution: From Ground-Based Ex-AO to JWST
Greenbaum, Alexandra Zvia
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The field of exoplanets has grown rapidly over the last 10 years, especially with technological advances in radial velocity and transit photometry methods of discovery. While direct imaging is behind in discovery tallies it is still competitive in characterization of discovered exoplanets. Direct imaging from the ground is sensitive to a younger population of planets that are still glowing from the heat of formation. Probing planet formation with high angular resolution methods complements coronagraphic surveys from both the ground and space. Combining direct imaging designs with state of the art wavefront control and downstream instrumentation for, e.g., spectroscopy and polarimetry is essential for understanding planet formation and evolution processes. Ground-based instrumentation sets the stage for flying mature high contrast technologies on future space telescopes to obtain the most scientific yield. I present my contributions to the current direct imaging revolution, both for ground based instrumentation as well as preparing for the upcoming JWST mission. I will begin by describing an image-based algorithm for reducing interferometric data, and outline the factors that limit contrast for binary detection. I will present the results from commissioning and characterizing the Gemini Planet Imager's non-redundant mask, outlining the search space for high resolution observations with GPI. I will also discuss how new post-processing methods can remove biases from planet signals close-in that are buried under speckle noise. Lastly, I will show how interferometric methods contribute to wavefront sensing, which can serve as a backup mirror phasing method for JWST and which will be an essential component of future large space telescopes aimed at imaging exo-earths.