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Search and investigation of extra-solar planets with polarimetry

  • H. M. Schmid (a1), J.-L. Beuzit (a2), M. Feldt (a3), D. Gisler (a1), R. Gratton (a4), Th. Henning (a3), F. Joos (a1), M. Kasper (a5), R. Lenzen (a3), D. Mouillet (a6), C. Moutou (a7), A. Quirrenbach (a8), D. M. Stam (a9), C. Thalmann (a1), J. Tinbergen (a10), C. Verinaud (a5), R. Waters (a9) and R. Wolstencroft (a11)...

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.

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Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
  • ISSN: 1743-9213
  • EISSN: 1743-9221
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-international-astronomical-union
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