S4: A spatial-spectral model for speckle suppression

Rob Fergus, David W. Hogg, Rebecca Oppenheimer, Douglas Brenner, Laurent Pueyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High dynamic range imagers aim to block or eliminate light from a very bright primary star in order to make it possible to detect and measure far fainter companions; in real systems, a small fraction of the primary light is scattered, diffracted, and unocculted. We introduce S4, a flexible data-driven model for the unocculted (and highly speckled) light in the P1640 spectroscopic coronagraph. The model uses principal components analysis (PCA) to capture the spatial structure and wavelength dependence of the speckles, but not the signal produced by any companion. Consequently, the residual typically includes the companion signal. The companion can thus be found by filtering this error signal with a fixed companion model. The approach is sensitive to companions that are of the order of a percent of the brightness of the speckles, or up to 10-7 times the brightness of the primary star. This outperforms existing methods by a factor of two to three and is close to the shot-noise physical limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number161
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2014


  • infrared: planetary systems
  • planetary systems
  • techniques: image processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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