By Zixin Huang and Cosmo Lupo.
Submitted to arXiv on 1 Jun 2021.
Detecting the faint emission of a secondary source in the proximity of the much brighter source has been the most severe obstacle for using direct imaging in searching for exoplanets. Using quantum state discrimination and quantum imaging techniques, we show that one can significantly reduce the probability of error for detecting the presence of a weak secondary source, even when the two sources have small angular separations. If the weak source has relative intensity ϵ≪1 to the bright source, we find that the error exponent can be improved by a factor of 1/ϵ. We also find the linear-optical measurements that are optimal in this regime. Our result serves as a complementary method in the toolbox of optical imaging, from astronomy to microscopy.