DEC 22, 2016 11:12 AM PST

New Telescope Chip Will Let Astronomers See Exoplanets More Clearly

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Getting a deep enough look into the depths of space where all of the known exoplanets are is a tough task, but new advancements in space telescope technology, which are over a decade in the making, might serve as useful for getting over this boundary.

Although we can pinpoint where exoplanets are with modern imaging technology, whether they’re Earth-like or gassy like Jupiter, we still don’t really have a way to see them clearly. A lot of times, we rely on the flickering of light from the host star or infrared observations that are often obscured by dust to tell us the exoplanet is there.

On the other hand, a new optical chip is being worked on that may soon make its way into space observing telescopes. A pre-print paper concerning the project appears on arXiv.org.

This chip seems to have the ability to cancel out light pollution from our own Sun so that we can get clearer images of parts of our galaxy. This includes other star systems and their orbiting exoplanets.

A new chip technology might push us into the next generation of exoplanet exploration.

Image Credit: Stuart Hay/ANU

"The ultimate aim of our work with astronomers is to be able to find a planet like Earth that could support life," said Dr Madden from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

"To do this we need to understand how and where planets form inside dust clouds, and then use this experience to search for planets with an atmosphere containing ozone, which is a strong indicator of life."

Modern equipment has a hard time getting decent pictures of distant systems because the Sun is so bright that its light pollution messes with the exposure of our optical equipment. By using this chip to filter all that light pollution out, we can focus on the light being emitted by other host stars, and get a better look at their exoplanets in the process.

If it sounds a little confusing, you can compare this technology to something you use every day, such as the noise cancellation feature of your headphones or smartphone speakers. Essentially, it takes all that background noise and tries to filter it out so you get the clearest signal possible.

"This chip is an interferometer that adds equal but opposite light waves from a host sun which cancels out the light from the sun, allowing the much weaker planet light to be seen," Dr Madden continued.

The researchers are optimistic that this technology will help us to isolate exoplanets that have the greatest chances of supporting alien life. After all, that’s where most of the energy behind exploring outer space comes from, so it’ll be worth it in the long run to put this technology to work in space observation in the foreseeable future.

Source: Australian National University

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 06, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Geologic Layering Responsible for "Watery" Reflections on Mars
OCT 06, 2022
Geologic Layering Responsible for "Watery" Reflections on Mars
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers from Cornell University examined bright spots ben ...
OCT 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
NASA's Chandra X-ray Telescope Provides a New Perspective for James Webb Space Telescopes Images
OCT 16, 2022
NASA's Chandra X-ray Telescope Provides a New Perspective for James Webb Space Telescopes Images
In the summer of 2022, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) released its very first images to the public. Now, ...
OCT 19, 2022
Technology
Drug Delivery System: Antibiotic Cement for Treating Bone Infections
OCT 19, 2022
Drug Delivery System: Antibiotic Cement for Treating Bone Infections
Antibiotic resistance continues to be an increasingly worrisome global health problem. Though antibiotics have been foun ...
OCT 24, 2022
Technology
3D Printing Breast Cancer Tumors
OCT 24, 2022
3D Printing Breast Cancer Tumors
Breast cancer is among the most common types of cancer, particularly among women. In fact, other than skin cancers, it i ...
NOV 10, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Hey Star, Want to Look Younger? Get Yourself a Hot Jupiter!
NOV 10, 2022
Hey Star, Want to Look Younger? Get Yourself a Hot Jupiter!
A new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society finds that “hot Jupiter” exop ...
NOV 14, 2022
Cancer
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
NOV 14, 2022
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
About 20% of breast cancers exhibit elevated levels of a protein known as HER2.  You may have heard the classifier ...
Loading Comments...