Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 May 2016
I briefly describe how diffraction-limited imaging with adaptive optics (AO) can detect low mass companions (young massive brown dwarfs for example). I review how current curvature AO systems can already detect point sources 1 million times fainter at separations of 3 arcsec in median seeing (0.65 arcsec). I show real examples of very faint companion detections made with the University of Hawaii AO system located at CFHT on Mauna Kea around the young (2 Myr) nearby (132 pc) Herbig Ae/Be star MWC480. Moreover, I show that the four faint (H=18–19 mag) companions within 6 arcsec of MWC480 (H=7.0 mag) are unlikely to be physical since they are non-common proper motion objects. I point out that the current 8–10m class AO systems will detect even fainter companions at closer separations with 0.03–0.06 arcsec NIR imaging.