The SPHERE instrument, installed at the ESO Very Large Telescope at Paranal (Chile), aims at imaging and characterizing giant exoplanets around stars close to the Sun. SPHERE represents a huge technological and scientific challenge as planets are very faint and very close to their star and therefore difficult to detect.
SPHERE is designed to optimally suppress the stellar light without removing the planetary signal using high-contrast and high-angular resolution techniques. To compensate the effect of the atmosphere, SPHERE is equipped with an adaptive optics system to restore the ultimate spatial resolution of the telescope as if the Telescope was in Space. Then, combining various techniques of coronagraphy and differential imaging, SPHERE optimized the detection of the planets in imaging, but also the characterization of the planet’s orbital and chemical properties.
The SPHERE-DC aims at providing a full reduction of all public SPHERE data. Given the huge amount of data, we spent several years developping a fully automatic pipeline that provide good reduction in most cases. It works well for typical SPHERE science cases (exoplanet/disc imaging, high contrast extended source) acquired in average and good observing conditions. However when dealing with poor or very variable observing conditions or less common science cases (notably low contrast extended source such as resolved solar system objects), the outputs provided by the SPHERE-DC might not be of paper-grade quality and need to be carefully checked before use in publications.