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First principle simulator of a stochastically varying image plane for photon-counting high contrast applications.

Dodkins, Rupert H. and Davis, Kristina K. and Lewis, Briley and Mahashabde, Sumedh and Mazin, Benjamin A. and Lipartito, Isabel A. and Fruitwala, Neelay and O’Brien, Kieran and Thatte, Niranjan (2020) 'First principle simulator of a stochastically varying image plane for photon-counting high contrast applications.', Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific,, 132 (1016).


Optical and near-infrared Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors, or MKIDs are low-temperature detectors with inherent spectral resolution that are able to instantly register individual photons with potentially no false counts or readout noise. These properties make MKIDs transformative for exoplanet direct imaging by enabling photon-statistics-based planet-discrimination techniques as well as performing conventional noise-subtraction techniques on shorter timescales. These detectors are in the process of rapid development, and as such, the full extent of their performance enhancing potential has not yet be quantified. MKID Exoplanet Direct Imaging Simulator, or MEDIS, is a general-purpose end-to-end numerical simulator for high-contrast observations with MKIDs. The simulator exploits current optical propagation libraries and augments them with a new MKIDs simulation module to provide a pragmatic model of many of the degradation effects present during the detection process. We use MEDIS to demonstrate how changes in various MKID properties affect the contrast-separation performance when conventional differential imaging techniques are applied to low-flux, short duration observations. We show that to improve performance at close separations will require increasing the maximum count rate or pixel sampling when there is high residual flux after the coronagraph. We predict that taking pixel yield from the value achieved by current instruments of 80% and increasing it to 100% would result in an improvement in contrast of a factor of ~4 at 3λ/D and ~8 at 6λ/D. Achieving better contrast performance in this low flux regime would then require exploiting the information encoded in the photon arrival time statistics.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:The deposited manuscript is available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.
Date accepted:28 July 2020
Date deposited:13 October 2020
Date of first online publication:16 September 2020
Date first made open access:16 September 2021

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