Modal noise mitigation for high-precision spectroscopy using a photonic reformatter

F. A. Pike, A. Benoît, D. G. Maclachlan, R. J. Harris, I. Gris-Sánchez, D. Lee, T. A. Birks, R. R. Thomson

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5 Citations (SciVal)


Recently, we demonstrated how an astrophotonic light reformatting device, based on a multicore fibre photonic lantern and a 3D waveguide component, can be used to efficiently reformat the point spread function of a telescope to a diffraction-limited pseudo-slit. Here, we demonstrate how such a device can also efficiently mitigate modal noise- A potential source of instability in high-resolution multimode fibre-fed spectrographs. To investigate the modal noise performance of the photonic reformatter, we have used it to feed light into a bench-top near-infrared spectrograph (R ≈ 7000, λ ≈ 1550 nm). One approach to quantifying the modal noise involved the use of broad-band excitation light and a statistical analysis of how the overall measured spectrum was affected by variations in the input coupling conditions. This approach indicated that the photonic reformatter could reduce modal noise by a factor of 6 when compared to a multimode fibre with a similar number of guided modes. Another approach to quantifying the modal noise involved the use of multiple spectrally narrow lines, and an analysis of how the measured barycentres of these lines were affected by variations in the input coupling. Using this approach, the photonic reformatter was observed to suppress modal noise to the level necessary to obtain spectra with stability close to that observed when using a single mode fibre feed. These results demonstrate the potential of using photonic reformatters to enable efficient multimode spectrographs that operate at the diffraction-limit and are free of modal noise, with potential applications including radial velocity measurements of M-dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3713-3725
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • instrumentation: Spectrographs
  • planets and satellites: Detection
  • techniques: Radial velocities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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