New Astrocomb Breakthrough Could Lead to Discovery of New Earth-Like Planets with the Extremely Large Telescope

New Astrocomb Technology Breakthrough Enhances Search for Earth-like Planets | Latest Science and Technology Updates

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and Cambridge University have made a technological breakthrough that could lead to the discovery of new Earth-like planets. The team has developed an astrocomb that can analyze the blue-green light emitted by stars, which can detect tiny variations in a star’s light created by orbiting exoplanets. This technology is being developed for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in Chile’s Atacama Desert, which will have a 39-meter primary mirror and be the largest visible and infrared light telescope in the world.

Previously, astrocombs were limited to the green-red part of the light spectrum, but this new system offers the chance to uncover more space secrets. According to Dr. Samantha Thompson from Cambridge, this innovation will enable scientists to study smaller planets on longer orbits than ever before. Professor Derryck Reid from Heriot-Watt University stated that the shorter wavelength light examined by the new system is rich in atomic absorption features of interest to astronomers. This new approach provides a continuous sequence of optical markers from the ultraviolet to the blue-green, serving as a precision wavelength scale in this part of the spectrum.

With this new technology, scientists are hopeful that they will be able to discover new Earth-like planets in the near future. The ELT is expected to begin operations in 2026 and will provide astronomers with unprecedented capabilities for studying distant galaxies and other celestial objects. The UK team will also work on developing astrocombs for telescopes in South Africa and the Canary Islands, further expanding our understanding of the universe around us.

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