Above: Images of the DARKNESS instrument.
Right: A binary star imaged with DARKNESS. The inset show the binary with the coronagraphic mask removed.
Below: Time lapse images of DARKNESS being assembled and mounted to the P3K bench.
We have used our revolutionary new detector technology, Optical/Near-IR Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs), to build an instrument of unprecedented capabilities for the direct imaging of extrasolar planets. DARKNESS, the Dark-speckle Near-IR Energy-resolved Superconducting Spectrophotometer, integrates with the existing SDC coronagraph at the Palomar 200". DARKNESS will significantly improve the star to planet contrast ratio over what can be achieved with a conventional Integral Field Unit (IFU). Advantages over conventional IFUs include:
1. Vastly simplified optical design with high throughput
2. Operation from 800-1400 nm with energy resolution R~10 at 1 micron allows spectral suppression of speckles
3. Zero read noise and zero dark current photon counting enabling active speckle control and time domain speckle discrimination
More information available in the instrument paper at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1538-3873/aab5e7
Special Thanks to: