Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Optical vortex could look directly at extrasolar planets

December 01, 2005
A new optical device might allow astronomers to view extrasolar planets directly without the annoying glare of the parent star. It would do this by "nulling" out the light of the parent star by exploiting its wave nature, leaving the reflected light from the nearby planet to be observed in space-based detectors. The device, called an optical vortex coronagraph, is described in the December 15, 2005 issue of Optics Letters.

About ten years ago the presence of planets around stars other than our sun was first deduced by the very tiny wobble in the star's spectrum of light imposed by the mutual tug between the star and its satellite. Since then more than 100 extrasolar planets have been detected in this way. Also, in a few cases the slight diminution in the star's radiation caused by the transit of the planet across in front of the star has been observed.

Many astronomers would, however, like to view the planet directly-a difficult thing to do. Seeing the planet next to its bright star has been compared to trying to discern, from a hundred meters away, the light of a match held up next to the glare of an automobile's headlight. The approach taken by Grover Swartzlander and his colleagues at the University of Arizona is to eliminate the star's light by sending it through a special helical-shaped mask, a sort of lens whose geometry resembles that of a spiral staircase turned on its side.

The process works in the following way: light passing through the thicker and central part of the mask is slowed down. Because of the graduated shape of the glass, an "optical vortex" is created: the light coming along the axis of the mask is, in effect, spun out of the image. It is nulled, as if an opaque mask had been place across the image of the star, but leaving the light from the nearby planet unaffected.

The idea of an optical vortex has been around for many years, but it has never been applied to astronomy before. In lab trials of the optical vortex mask, light from mock stars has been reduced by factors of 100 to 1000, while light from a nearby "planet" was unaffected (see test figures at http://www.aip.org/png/2005/241.htm). Attaching their device to a telescope on Mt. Lemon outside Tucson, Arizona, the researchers took pictures of Saturn and its nearby rings to demonstrate the ease of integrating the mask into a telescopic imaging system.

This is, according to Swartzlander (grovers@optics.arizona.edu, 520-626-3723), a more practical technique than merely attempting to cover over the star's image, as is done in coronagraphs, devices for observing our sun's corona by masking out the disk of the sun. It could fully come into its own on a project like the Terrestrial Planet Finder, or TPF, a proposed orbiting telescope to be developed over the coming decade and designed to image exoplanets.

American Institute of Physics


Related Extrasolar Planets Current Events and Extrasolar Planets News Articles


ALMA finds double star with weird and wild planet-forming discs
From movies to television, obesity is still considered "fair game" for jokes and ridicule. A new study from researchers at Bowling Green State University took a closer look at weight-related humor to see if anti-fat attitudes played into a person's appreciation or distaste for fat humor in the media.

Astronomers identify signature of Earth-eating stars
Some Sun-like stars are 'Earth-eaters.' During their development they ingest large amounts of the rocky material from which 'terrestrial' planets like Earth, Mars and Venus are made.

Giant telescope tackles orbit and size of exoplanet
Using one of the world's largest telescopes, a Lawrence Livermore team and international collaborators have tracked the orbit of a planet at least four times the size of Jupiter.

Lick's Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters
Lick Observatory's newest telescope, the Automated Planet Finder (APF), has been operating robotically night after night on Mt. Hamilton since January, searching nearby stars for Earth-sized planets.

NRL Researchers Detect Water Around a Hot Jupiter
Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are part of a research team that has detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system.

Detection of Water Vapor in the Atmosphere of a Hot Jupiter
Although liquid water covers a majority of Earth's surface, scientists are still searching for planets outside of our solar system that contain water.

SF State astronomers discover new planet in Pisces constellation
A team led by SF State astronomer Stephen Kane has discovered a new giant planet located in a star system within the Pisces constellation. The planet, perhaps twice the mass of Jupiter, could help researchers learn more about how extrasolar planets are formed.

Out of this world first light images emerge from Gemini Planet Imager
After nearly a decade of development, construction and testing, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets orbiting around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

Astronomers Image Lowest-mass Exoplanet Around a Sun-like Star
Using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, an international team of astronomers has imaged a giant planet around the bright star GJ 504. Several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, the new world, dubbed GJ 504b, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.

Gas-Giant Exoplanets Cling Close to Their Parent Stars
Finding extrasolar planets has become so commonplace that it seems astronomers merely have to look up and another world is discovered.
More Extrasolar Planets Current Events and Extrasolar Planets News Articles

Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology

Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology
by Caleb Scharf (Author)


Winner of the 2011 Chambliss Prize for Astronomical Writing from The American Astronomical Society!

This book offers an advanced introduction to the increasingly robust fields of extrasolar planets and astrobiology. No other text currently available applies this level of mathematics and physics, while also providing an extensive grounding in key issues of chemistry, biology, and geophysics. With extensive references to the literature and chapter-ending exercises, this book can be used as the core text for teaching undergraduate or introductory graduate level courses. The text will also provide astrobiologists with an indispensable "User's Manual" when quick reference to key mathematical and physical techniques is needed. A continually updated online component, fully cross...

The Planets

The Planets
by Dava Sobel (Author)


With her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel introduced readers to her rare gift for weaving complex scientific concepts into a compelling narrative. Now Sobel brings her full talents to bear on what is perhaps her most ambitious topic to date-the planets of our solar system. Sobel explores the origins and oddities of the planets through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. Written in her characteristically graceful prose, The Planets is a stunningly original celebration of our solar system and offers a distinctive view of our place in the universe.

* A New York Times extended bestseller
* A Featured Alternate of the Book-of-the-Month Club, History Book Club, Scientific...

The New Worlds: Extrasolar Planets (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy)

The New Worlds: Extrasolar Planets (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy)
by Fabienne Casoli (Author), Therese Encrenaz (Author)


Offering an engaging and complete story of the hunt for new worlds, this volume fully details the detection and exploration of extrasolar planets. It examines the very wide range of extrasolar planets that have been discovered during the past ten years and looks at what can be learned about such planets by studying the bodies in our own solar system. It also discusses the formation of planetary systems, the way in which such systems may evolve and the final systems of planets that result. In addition, the authors demonstrate how life might evolve on an extrasolar planet and how such life might be detected.

Scholastic Discover More Reader Level 1: Planets (Scholastic Discover More Readers)

Scholastic Discover More Reader Level 1: Planets (Scholastic Discover More Readers)
by Gail Tuchman (Author)


A level 1 reader in the Scholastic Discover More Reader series.

PLANETS guides beginning readers on a journey of exploration through the solar system, showing how planets were formed, their attraction to stars, moons, and satellites, and how we humans explore our space neighborhood--the Milky Way galaxy--and beyond. A companion digital book poses evidence-based questions through fun Q&A, matching games, writing activities, and vocabulary "slams" that test the reader's comprehension.

Extrasolar Planets: The Search for New Worlds (Wiley-Praxis Series in Astronomy & Astrophysics)

Extrasolar Planets: The Search for New Worlds (Wiley-Praxis Series in Astronomy & Astrophysics)
by Stuart Clark (Author)


Extrasolar Planets The Search for New Worlds Stuart Clark There have recently been many exciting developments in the search for planetary-sized bodies orbiting Sun-like stars. This book provides a timely, readable, yet comprehensive overview of this fast moving field. It presents the very latest discoveries and ideas, and covers the wealth of new and important observational data. An increasing number of suspected planets outside our own Solar System are now being found, and many objects have been independently confirmed. Surprisingly, the extrasolar planets discovered so far display orbital properties more diverse than those found in the Solar System. The implication of these discoveries for theories of planet formation and the possibilities of life elsewhere makes this an exciting and...

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System (National Geographic Kids)

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System (National Geographic Kids)
by David A. Aguilar (Author)


First, Pluto left. Then it came back, along with Ceres and Eris...and now Haumea and MakeMake, too! The recent actions of the International Astronomical Union have put every solar system book out of date. In response, National Geographic joins forces with David Aguilar of the Harvard Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory to revise our 2008 book—and to update young readers on the high-interest topic of space. Using simple text and spectacular photorealistic computer art by the author, this book profiles all 13 planets in their newly created categories—plus the sun, the Oort Cloud, comets, and other worlds being discovered. Back-of-the-book activities offer hands-on fun for budding astronomers.

Earth: Portrait of a Planet (Fourth Edition)

Earth: Portrait of a Planet (Fourth Edition)
by Stephen Marshak (Author)


Innovative and up-to-date—the number one Introduction to Geology textbook. The Fourth Edition of Earth: Portrait of a Planet provides the perfect balance between an authoritative, yet accessible text and a stunning narrative art program. This makes it the book of choice for instructors and students, who all have their own diverse styles of both teaching and learning. The Fourth Edition of this best-selling text constitutes a major revision, packed with recent updates and new features such as beautiful and innovative narrative figures, stimulating inquiry-based pedagogy, a tightened core narrative, hundreds of new photographs, and coverage of hot topics, like the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan, the rare element crisis, the shifting price of oil, and the recent...

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet

The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet
by Dimitar Sasselov (Author)


In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus fomented a revolution when he debunked the geocentric view of the universe, proving instead that our planet wasn’t central to the universe. Almost five hundred years later, the revolution he set in motion is nearly complete. Just as earth is not the center of things, the life on it, it appears, is not unique to the planet. Or is it? The Life of Super-Earths is a breathtaking tour of current efforts to answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, the founding director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative, takes us on a fast-paced hunt for habitable planets and alien life forms. He shows how the search for “super-Earths”—rocky planets like our own that orbit other stars—may provide the key to...

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System
by Ray Jayawardhana (Author)


In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets--and alien life--beyond our solar system. Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars--thousands in fact. Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings--including his own--that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct...

The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery

The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery
by Guillermo Gonzalez (Author), Jay Richards (Author)



Earth. The Final Frontier

Contrary to popular belief, Earth is not an insignificant blip on the universe’s radar. Our world proves anything but average in Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards’ The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.

But what exactly does Earth bring to the table? How does it prove its worth among numerous planets and constellations in the vastness of the Milky Way? In The Privileged Planet, you’ll learn about the world’s:

life-sustaining capabilities
water and its miraculous makeup
protection by the planetary giants

And how our planet came into existence in the first place.


© 2015 BrightSurf.com