EPOL: the exoplanet polarimeter for EPICS at the E-ELT
Frans Snik(1), Christoph Keller(1), Maria de Juan Ovelar(1), Michiel Rodenhuis(1), Visa Korkiakoski(1), Lars Venema(2), Rieks Jager(2), Florence Rigal(2), Hiddo Hanenburg(2), Ronald Roelfsema(2), Hans Martin Schmidt (3), Christophe Verinaud (4), Markus Kasper(5), Patrice Martinez(5), Natalia Yaitskova (5)
(1) Sterrekundig Instituut Utrecht; (2) NOVA-ASTRON; (3) ETH Zurich; (4) LAOG; (5) ESO
EPOL is the imaging polarimeter part of EPICS (Exoplanet Imaging Camera and Spectrograph) for the 42-m E-ELT. It is based on sensitive imaging polarimetry to differentiate between linearly polarized light from exoplanets and unpolarized, scattered starlight and to characterize properties of exoplanet atmospheres and surfaces that cannot be determined from intensity observations alone. EPOL consists of a coronagraph and a dual-beam polarimeter with a liquid-crystal retarder to exchange the polarization of the two beams. The polarimetry thereby increases the contrast between star and exoplanet by 3 to 5 orders of magnitude over what the extreme adaptive optics and the EPOL coronagraph alone can achieve. EPOL operates between 600 and 900 nm, can select more specific wavelength bands with filters and aims at having an integral field unit to obtain linearly polarized spectra of known exoplanets. We present the conceptual design of EPOL along with an analysis of its performance.