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Nulling Interferometry

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Dark fringe interferometry


Nulling interferometry is the name given to an instrumental technique based on interferences between several telescopes and aiming at detecting directly exoplanets. The principle is to create a virtual “blind spot” at the exact location of a bright source, a star, in order to reveal the much fainter source, which is a planet orbiting it.


This technique is a variant of coronagraphy and aims at reducing the extreme contrast of intensity that may exist between two objects very close one to the other, as a star-planet system, but here the solution lies in the interferometric recombination of radiation from several telescopes. Coronagraphy is used primarily in the visible and near infrared: the angular resolution of a large telescope is indeed ten times better than the angle subtended by a planetary orbit of 1 AU at a distance of 10 pc; however, the star-planet contrast still remains very high (typically 1010). On the other hand, in...


  • Coronagraphy
  • Exoplanet detection

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References and Further Reading

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Correspondence to Daniel Rouan .

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© 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Rouan, D. (2014). Nulling Interferometry. In: , et al. Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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Chapter History

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    Nulling Interferometry
    30 March 2023


  2. Original

    Nulling Interferometry
    02 May 2015