Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Universe Today (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:
Total:

Existing Telescopes Could Directly Observe ‘ExoEarths…’ with a Few Tweaks

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


One proposal offers a unique method to directly image ExoEarths, or rocky worlds around nearby stars.

It’s the holy grail of modern exoplanet astronomy. As of writing this, the count of known worlds beyond the solar system stands at 6,520. Most of these are ‘hot Jupiters,’ large worlds in tight orbits around their host star. But what we’d really like to get a look at are ‘ExoEarths,’ rocky worlds (hopefully) like our own.

Now, a recent study out of the University of Paris, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the University of Cambridge entitled Exoplanets in Reflected Starlight with Dual-Field Interferometry: A Case For Shorter Wavelengths and a Fifth Unit Telescope at VLTI/Paranal suggests a method to do just that in the coming decade. This would involve one the most massive telescope complexes ever built: the Very Large Telescope. Based at Paranal Observatory in Chile, this array consists of four 8.2-metre telescopes working in concert via a method known as interferometry. The study advocates adding a fifth telescope, giving the VLT the capacity to see Jupiter-sized worlds shining directly in the host star’s light… and with a few key upgrades, the new and improved VLT could perhaps image ‘ExoEarths’ directly.

Pioneering Dual-Field Interferometry

Interferometry is the method of using superimposed waves collected from two telescopes to merge a signal into one image. This method allows for a resolution equivalent to the baseline between the two collecting instruments, bypassing the need for one enormous telescope. Long baseline radio interferometry can span continents, and there are plans to move the technique into space. Interferometry at visual wavelengths is a tougher proposition, one that’s just reaching its true potential.

Dual Field Interferometry uses the technique to simultaneously focus on two narrow fields in context within a larger field. One field is centered on the host star, and one on the target exoplanet. This can then minimize (subtract) photon shot noise from the primary, allowing for a clear view of the target world.

“With this technique, at the VLTI, we have a resolution equivalent to having a telescope of 130 meters,” lead author on the study Sylvestre Lacour (University of Paris) told Universe Today. “This allows us to distinguish the exoplanet’s light from the contamination by the stellar light, allowing to detect exoplanets very close to the star.”

Beta Pictoris b
ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) timelapse of Beta Pictoris b around its parent star. This young massive exoplanet was initially discovered in 2008 using the NACO instrument at the VLT.  The sequence tracked the exoplanet from late 2014 until late 2016, using the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument (SPHERE) — another instrument on the VLT.

“The term ‘dual’ in dual interferometry comes from the fact the we are observing at the same time the exoplanet and the star with the optical interferometer,” says Lacour. “This is necessary to be able to probe at the same time the phase of the stellar light and the phase of the exoplanet light, to be able to distinguish the two. By ‘phase’ I mean the phase of the electric field entering the interferometer.”

GRAVITY
The GRAVITY instrument at the VLTI in Paranal. Credit: ESO

The Hunt for ExoEarths

The method is already being applied to reveal nearby worlds. “We typically observe exoplanets at a few tens of parsecs,” says Lacour. “They are massive exoplanets, more massive than Jupiter (between 4 and 10 Jupiter masses), and they are young, less than 50 million years (old). You can look for the results for the GRAVITY collaboration, operating the GRAVITY instrument at Paranal.”

One key technique used to overcome the effects of ‘shot noise’ is what’s termed as ‘apodization’. “Apodization is a way to decrease the contamination of the stellar light entering into our interferometer,” says Lacour. “It is similar to adding a coronagraph.”

Apodization makes ground-based systems such as the VLTI viable in terms of exoplanet science and direct detection. Other efforts such as the European Space Agency’s Proba-3 space telescope launching later in 2024 will use a free flying coronagraph to directly image exoplanets.

A pro to this method is it can characterize orbits within a few Astronomical Units from their host star. Other techniques observe planets very close in, or very far out. The downside of the method is that it’s a very difficult technique, right on the grim edge of what’s currently possible with existing telescopes.

E-ELT
An artist’s conception of the E-ELT telescope. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/ESO

The Future of Exoplanet Astronomy

There’s already a good case for plans to extend the VLTI baseline to a fifth instrument. This includes direct imaging for worlds known orbiting around nearby stars to include Proxima Centauri B and Tau Ceti e. Lessons learned from the VLTI could also work for the Extremely Large Telescope, which may see first light in 2028.

Tau Ceti e
An artist’s conception of Tau Ceti e, a possible ‘ExoEarth’ in the habitable zone. Ph03nix1986/Wikimedia Commons/CCA 4.0

It’ll be exciting to see more nearby worlds revealed by this technique in the coming decade.

The post Existing Telescopes Could Directly Observe ‘ExoEarths…’ with a Few Tweaks appeared first on Universe Today.


Source: https://www.universetoday.com/167390/existing-telescopes-could-directly-observe-exoearths-with-a-few-tweaks/


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Nootropic

Mushrooms are having a moment. One fabulous fungus in particular, lion’s mane, may help improve memory, depression and anxiety symptoms. They are also an excellent source of nutrients that show promise as a therapy for dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases. If you’re living with anxiety or depression, you may be curious about all the therapy options out there — including the natural ones.Our Lion’s Mane WHOLE MIND Nootropic Blend has been formulated to utilize the potency of Lion’s mane but also include the benefits of four other Highly Beneficial Mushrooms. Synergistically, they work together to Build your health through improving cognitive function and immunity regardless of your age. Our Nootropic not only improves your Cognitive Function and Activates your Immune System, But it benefits growth of Essential Gut Flora, further enhancing your Vitality.



Our Formula includes: Lion’s Mane Mushrooms which Increase Brain Power through nerve growth, lessen anxiety, reduce depression, and improve concentration. Its an excellent adaptogen, promotes sleep and improves immunity.


Shiitake Mushrooms which Fight cancer cells and infectious disease, boost the immune system, promotes brain function, and serves as a source of B vitamins.


Maitake Mushrooms which regulate blood sugar levels of diabetics, reduce hypertension and boosts the immune system.


Reishi Mushrooms which Fight inflammation, liver disease, fatigue, tumor growth and cancer. They Improve skin disorders and soothes digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.


Chaga Mushrooms which have anti-aging effects, boost immune function, improve stamina and athletic performance, even act as a natural aphrodisiac, fighting diabetes and improving liver function.


Try Our Lion’s Mane WHOLE MIND Nootropic Blend 60 Capsules Today. Be 100% Satisfied or Receive a Full Money Back Guarantee. Order Yours Today by Following This Link.

Report abuse

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

MOST RECENT
Load more ...

SignUp

Login

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.