Research Groups

Laboratoy of Exoplanets Imaging and Adaptive Optics (LEIAO)


The Programmable Liquid-crystal Active Coronagraphic Imager for the DAG telescope (PLACID) instrument is a novel high-contrast direct imaging facility that will come online on the Turkish 4-m DAG telescope later this year. In a nutshell, PLACID will consist in a fore-optics coronagraphic intermediate stage platform, located downstream the TROIA XAO system and upstream of the DIRAC HAWAII-2RG focal-plane array. The PLACID project, led by a consortium of Swiss Universities contracted by the Atatürk University Astrophysics Research and Application Center (ATASAM), is undergoing Factory Acceptance Review in April 2023, with on-sky commissioning and first light scheduled for the end of 2023. In practice, PLACID will be the world’s first ever “active coronagraph” facility, fielding a customized spatial light modulator (SLM) acting as a dynamically programmable focal-plane phase mask (FPM) coronagraph from H- to Ks-band. This will provide a wealth of novel options to the observers, among which software-only abilities to change or re-align the coronagraphic FPM pattern in function of conditions or science requirements, free of any actuator motion. Future capabilities will include non-common path aberrations (NCPA) self-calibration, optimized coronagrphy for binaries or multiple stars, as well as coherent differential imaging (CDI). As such, the PLACID facility will be a platform of choice for international collaborations and prototyping of new concepts, placing the nascent Turkish astronomy community on an ideal learning curve trajectory.