High-contrast observations in optical and infrared astronomy are defined as any observation requiring a technique to reveal a celestial object of interest that is in such close angular proximity to another source brighter by a factor of at least 105 that optical effects hinder or prevent the collection of photons directly from the target of observation. This is a relatively new type of observation that enables research on previously obscured parts of the Universe. In particular, it is most applicable to comparative planetary science, a field that directly attacks such questions as “how common are planetary systems? What types of planets exist, and are there planets other than Earth that are capable of supporting life as we know it?” We survey the scientific motivations for high-contrast observations, provide an overview of the techniques currently being used or developed, and discuss some ideas and studies for future prospects.

[Erratum, Closure]

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High-Contrast Observations in Optical and Infrared Astronomy

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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