From exoplanets to quasars: adventures in angular differential imaging

dc.contributor.authorJohnson-Groh, Mara
dc.contributor.supervisorMarois, Christian
dc.contributor.supervisorEllison, Sara L. of Physics and Astronomyen_US of Science M.Sc.en_US
dc.description.abstractAngular differential imaging provides a novel way of probing high contrast regions of our universe. Until now, its applications have been primarily localized to searching for exoplanets around nearby stars. This work presents a suite of applications of angular differential imaging from the theoretical underpinning of data reduction, to its use characterizing substellar objects, to a new application looking for the host galaxies of damped Lyman α systems which are usually lost in the glare of ultra-bright quasars along the line of sight. The search for exoplanets utilizes angular differential imaging and relies on complex algorithms to remove residual speckles and artifacts in the images. One such algorithm, the Template Locally Optimized Combination of Images (TLOCI), uses a least-squares method to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio and can be used with variable parameters, such as an input spectral template, matrix inversion method, aggressivity and unsharp mask size. Given the large volume of image sequences that need to be processed in any exoplanet survey, it is important to find a small set of parameters that can maximize detections for any conditions. Rigorous testing of these parameters were done with on-sky images and simulated inserted planets to find the optimal combination of parameters. Overall, a standard matrix inversion, along with two to three input templates, a modest aggressivity of 0.7 and the smallest unsharp mask was found to be the best choice to balance optimal detection. Beyond optimizations, TLOCI has been used in conjunction with angular differential imaging to characterize substellar objects in our local solar neighbourhood. In particular, the star HD 984 was imaged as a part of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey. Although previously known to have a substellar companion, new imaging presented here in the H and J bands help further characterize this object. Comparisons with a library of brown dwarf spectral types found a best match to HD 984 B of a type M7±2. Orbital fitting suggests an 18 AU (70 year) orbit, with a 68% confidence interval between 12 and 27 AU. Object magnitude was used to find the luminosity, mass and temperature using DUSTY models. Although angular differential imaging has proven its value in high contrast imaging, it has largely remained in the field of substellar object detection, despite other high contrast regimes in which it could be applied. One potential application is outside the local solar neighbourhood with studies of damped Lyman α systems, which have struggled to identify host galaxies thought to be caused by systems seen in the spectra of bright quasars. Work herein presents the first application of angular differential imaging to finding the host galaxies to damped Lyman α systems. Using ADI we identified three potential systems within 30kpc of the sightline of the quasar and demonstrate the potential for future imaging of galaxies at close separations. In summary, this thesis presents a comprehensive look at multiple aspects of high contrast angular differential imaging. It explores optimizations with a data reduction algorithm, implementations characterizing substellar objects, and new applications imaging galaxies.en_US
dc.rightsAvailable to the World Wide Weben_US
dc.subjectDamped Lyman Alpha Galaxiesen_US
dc.subjectBrown Dwarfsen_US
dc.titleFrom exoplanets to quasars: adventures in angular differential imagingen_US


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