Asgard/NOTT: L-band nulling interferometry at the VLTI. II. Warm optical design and injection system

Germain Garreau, Azzurra Bigioli, Romain Laugier, Gert Raskin, Johan Morren, Jean Philippe Berger, Colin Dandumont, Harry-Dean Kenchington Goldsmith, J.J.D. Loicq, More Authors

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Abstract

Asgard/NOTT (previously Hi-5) is a European Research Council (ERC)-funded project hosted at KU Leuven and a new visitor instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Its primary goal is to image the snow line region around young stars using nulling interferometry in the L′-band (3.5 to 4.0) μm, where the contrast between exoplanets and their host stars is advantageous. The breakthrough is the use of a photonic beam combiner, which only recently allowed the required theoretical raw contrast of 10−3 in this spectral range. Nulling interferometry observations of exoplanets also require a high degree of balancing between the four pupils of the VLTI in terms of intensity, phase, and polarization. The injection into the beam combiner and the requirements of nulling interferometry are driving the design of the warm optics and the injection system. The optical design up to the beam combiner is presented. It offers a technical solution to efficiently couple the light from the VLTI into the beam combiner. During the coupling, the objective is to limit throughput losses to 5% of the best expected efficiency for the injection. To achieve this, a list of different loss sources is considered with their respective impact on the injection efficiency. Solutions are also proposed to meet the requirements of beam balancing for intensity, phase, and polarization. The different properties of the design are listed, including the optics used, their alignment and tolerances, and their impact on the instrumental performances in terms of throughput and null depth. The performance evaluation gives an expected throughput loss <6.4% of the best efficiency for the injection and a null depth of ∼2.10−3, mainly from optical path delay errors outside the scope of this work
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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