Nav: Home

New telescope chip offers clear view of alien planets

December 05, 2016

Scientists have developed a new optical chip for a telescope that enables astronomers to have a clear view of alien planets that may support life.

Seeing a planet outside the solar system which is close to its host sun, similar to Earth, is very difficult with today's standard astronomical instruments due to the brightness of the sun.

Associate Professor Steve Madden from The Australian National University (ANU) said the new chip removes light from the host sun, allowing astronomers for the first time to take a clear image of the planet.

"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."

Physicists and astronomers at ANU worked on the optical chip with researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

Dr Madden said the optical chip worked in a similar way to noise cancelling headphones.

"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," he said.

PhD student Harry-Dean Kenchington Goldsmith, who built the chip at the ANU Laser Physics Centre, said the technology works like thermal imaging that fire fighters rely on to see through smoke.

"The chip uses the heat emitted from the planet to peer through dust clouds and see planets forming. Ultimately the same technology will allow us to detect ozone on alien planets that could support life," said Mr Kenchington Goldsmith from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The innovation builds on over 10 years of research on specialised optical materials and devices that has been supported through CUDOS, a centre of excellence funded by the Australian Research Council.

The research is being presented at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Brisbane this week.
-end-
ANU media team can provide a copy of the research paper and related images to journalists, upon request.

Australian National University

Related Ozone Articles:

Investigating the causes of the ozone levels in the Valderejo Nature Reserve
The UPV/EHU's Atmospheric Research Group (GIA) has presented a database comprising over 60 volatile organic compounds (VOC) measured continuously over the last ten years in the Valderejo Nature Reserve (Álava, Basque Country).
FSU Research: Despite less ozone pollution, not all plants benefit
Policies and new technologies have reduced emissions of precursor gases that lead to ozone air pollution, but despite those improvements, the amount of ozone that plants are taking in has not followed the same trend, according to Florida State University researchers.
Iodine may slow ozone layer recovery
Air pollution and iodine from the ocean contribute to damage of Earth's ozone layer.
Ozone threat from climate change
We know the recent extreme heat is something that we can expect more of as a result of increasing temperatures due to climate change.
Super volcanic eruptions interrupt ozone recovery
Strong volcanic eruptions, especially when a super volcano erupts, will have a strong impact on ozone, and might interrupt the ozone recovery processes.
How severe drought influences ozone pollution
From 2011 to 2015, California experienced its worst drought on record, with a parching combination of high temperatures and low precipitation.
New threat to ozone recovery
A new MIT study, published in Nature Geoscience, identifies another threat to the ozone layer's recovery: chloroform -- a colorless, sweet-smelling compound that is primarily used in the manufacturing of products such as Teflon and various refrigerants.
Ozone hole modest despite optimum conditions for ozone depletion
The ozone hole that forms in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica each September was slightly above average size in 2018, NOAA and NASA scientists reported today.
Increased UV from ozone depletion sterilizes trees
UC Berkeley paleobotanists put dwarf, bonsai pine trees in growth chambers and subjected them to up to 13 times the UV-B radiation Earth experiences today, simulating conditions that likely existed 252 million years ago during the planet's worst mass extinction.
Ozone at lower latitudes is not recovering, despite Antarctic ozone hole healing
The ozone layer -- which protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation -- is recovering at the poles, but unexpected decreases in part of the atmosphere may be preventing recovery at lower latitudes.
More Ozone News and Ozone Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.