MEMS mirror images exoplanet

MEMS mirror images exoplanet

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The 4K-DM is part of a specialized instrument called the Gemini Planet Imager that detects light from extrasolar planets.

Custom built for GPI, BMC’s 4K-DM is a 4092-actuator deformable mirror spanning over a 25mm aperture. It allows the clarification of planet images otherwise obscured by light from parent stars. GPI is up and running and, with the help of the 4k-DM is correcting for atmospheric distortions, which are a problem with most ground-based telescopes.

The mirror has a continuous surface with 4092 actuators. Each is capable of a 3.5-micron movement with low interactuator coupling and zero hysteresis. The speed of movement is also daunting allowing the 4K-DM to achieve a frame rate of 20kHz with a sub-nm step size.

Gemini Planet Imager’s first light image of the light scattered by a disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796A. The left image shows normal light, including both the dust ring and the residual light from the central star scattered by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The right image shows only polarized light. Leftover starlight is unpolarized and hence removed from this image. The light from the front edge of the disk is strongly polarized as it scatters towards Earth.

"Our deformable mirror technology continues to advance, enabling extrasolar planet discoveries," said Paul Bierden, CEO of Boston Micromachines, in a statement.

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