M-band & K-band AGPMs see first light at Keck

We are excited to announce that our new K-band and M-band AGPMs have just seen their first light on NIRC2 at the Keck Observatory. The new vortex phase masks seem to behave optimally, which -combined with the new set of custom-made Lyot stops- opens new possibilities in terms of exoplanet imaging (especially for not-so-warm planets at M band).

K-band AGPM delivered to NIRC2

In preparation to the forthcoming upgrades of the NIRC2 camera at the Keck Observatory, we have just delivered a K-band AGPM to the NIRC2/KPIC team at Caltech. This is so far our only science-grade AGPM working at wavelengths around 2µm. We are very excited of this opportunity to enlarge the spectrum covered by AGPMs.

New L-band AGPMs see first light at LBT

A couple of new L-band AGPMs, combined with new custom-made Lyot stops, saw first light on Xmas day at the Large Binocular Telescope (Mt Graham, AZ). Each of the two 8-m apertures of the LBT were focused separately on the two vortex phase masks. The rejection ratio now reaches an impressive 80:1. Let us now hope that this wonderful combination of exquisite AO correction and vortex coronagraphy will be used for ground-breaking scientific observations!

VLT/VISIR to search for planets around alpha Cen with a vortex coronagraph

ESO has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives to adapt the Very Large Telescope instrumentation in Chile to conduct a search for Earth-like planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri. Such planets could be the targets for an eventual launch of miniature space probes by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative. The VORTEX team will provide a new vortex phase mask with enhanced performance to enable this ambitious project.

See full press release on:
– the ESO website
– the Breakthrough website
– the ULg website (in French, with more details on the ULg contribution)