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Search and investigation of extra-solar planets with polarimetry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 May 2006

H. M. Schmid
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
J.-L. Beuzit
Affiliation:
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, Observatoire de Grenoble, France
M. Feldt
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany
D. Gisler
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
R. Gratton
Affiliation:
INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy
Th. Henning
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany
F. Joos
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
M. Kasper
Affiliation:
European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany
R. Lenzen
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany
D. Mouillet
Affiliation:
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Tarbes, France,
C. Moutou
Affiliation:
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, France
A. Quirrenbach
Affiliation:
Sterrewacht, Leiden University, the Netherlands
D. M. Stam
Affiliation:
Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
C. Thalmann
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
J. Tinbergen
Affiliation:
ASTRON, Dwingeloo, the Netherlands
C. Verinaud
Affiliation:
European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany
R. Waters
Affiliation:
Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
R. Wolstencroft
Affiliation:
Astronomy Technology Center, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, UK
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Abstract

Light reflected from planets is polarized. This basic property of planets provides the possibility for detecting and characterizing extra-solar planets using polarimetry. The expected polarization properties of extra-solar planets are discussed that can be inferred from polarimetry of “our” solar system planets. They show a large variety of characteristics depending on the atmospheric and/or surface properties. Best candidates for a polarimetric detection are extra-solar planets with an optically thick Rayleigh scattering layer.

Even the detection of highly polarized extra-solar planets requires a very sophisticated instrument. We present the results from a phase A (feasibility) study for a polarimetric arm in the ESO VLT planet finder instrument. It is shown that giant planets around nearby stars can be searched and investigated with an imaging polarimeter, combined with a powerful AO system and a coronagraph at an 8 m class telescope.

A similar type of polarimeter is also considered for the direct detection of terrestrial planets using an AO system on one of the future Extremely Large Telescopes.

Type
Contributed Papers
Copyright
© 2006 International Astronomical Union

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