Extrasolar planet finding via optimal apodized-pupil and shaped-pupil coronagraphs

N. Jeremy Kasdin, Robert J. Vanderbei, David N. Spergel, Michael G. Littman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


In this paper we examine several different apodization approaches to achieving high-contrast imaging of extrasolar planets and compare different designs on a selection of performance metrics. These approaches are characterized by their use of the pupil's transmission function to focus the starlight rather than by masking the star in the image plane as in a classical coronagraph. There are two broad classes of pupil coronagraphs examined in this paper: Apodized pupils with spatially varying transmission functions and shaped pupils, whose transmission values are either 0 or 1. The latter are much easier to manufacture to the needed tolerances. In addition to comparing existing approaches, numerical optimization is used to design new pupil shapes. These new designs can achieve nearly as high a throughput as the best apodized pupils and perform significantly better than the apodized square aperture design. The new shaped pupils enable searches of 50%-100% of the detectable region, suppress the star's light to below 10-10 of its peak value, and have inner working distances as small as 2.8λ/D. Pupils are shown for terrestrial planet discovery using square, rectangular, circular, and elliptical apertures. A mask targeted at Jovian planet discovery is also presented, in which contrast is given up to yield greater throughput.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1161
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Jan 10 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • Planetary systems


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