Diffraction analysis of two-dimensional pupil mapping for high-contrast imaging

Robert J. Vanderbei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Pupil mapping is a technique whereby a uniformly illuminated input pupil, such as from starlight, can be mapped into a nonuniformly illuminated exit pupil, such that the image formed from this pupil will have suppressed sidelobes, many orders of magnitude weaker than classical Airy ring intensities. Pupil mapping is therefore a candidate technique for coronagraphic imaging of extrasolar planets around nearby stars. Unlike most other high-contrast imaging techniques, pupil mapping is lossless and preserves the full angular resolution of the collecting telescope. So it could possibly give the highest signal-to-noise ratio of any proposed single-telescope system for detecting extrasolar planets. Prior analyses based on pupil-to-pupil ray-tracing indicate that a planet fainter than 10-10 times its parent star, and as close as about 2λ/D, should be detectable. In this paper we describe the results of careful diffraction analysis of pupil-mapping systems. These results reveal a serious unresolved issue. Namely, high-contrast pupil mappings distribute light from very near the edge of the first pupil to a broad area of the second pupil, and this dramatically amplifies diffraction-based edge effects, resulting in a limiting attainable contrast of about 10-5. We hope that by identifying this problem, others will provide a solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-543
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Planetary systems
  • Techniques: high angular resolution


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