Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 19, 2015


This is a Vacuum Tower Telescope in Tenerife. Image courtesy Prof. Wolfgang Schmidt.

The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany.

In a paper published 18 February in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, the team of researchers have successfully demonstrated how a solar telescope can be combined with a piece of technology that has already taken the physics world by storm--the laser frequency comb (LFC).

The accompanying video abstract can be viewed here.

It is expected the technique will allow a spectral analysis of distant stars with unprecedented accuracy, as well as advance research in other areas of astrophysics, such as detailed observations of the Sun and the measurement of the accelerating universe by observing distant quasars.

The LFC is a tool for measuring the colour--or frequency--of light, and has been responsible for generating some of the most precise measurements ever made. An LFC is created by a laser that emits continuous pulses of light, containing millions of different colours, often spanning almost the entire visible spectrum.

When the different colours are separated based on their individual frequencies--the speed with which that particular light wave oscillates--they form a "comb-like" graph with finely spaced lines, or "teeth", representing the individual frequencies.

This "comb" can then be used as a "ruler" to precisely measure the frequency of light from a wide range of sources, such as lasers, atoms or stars.

In their study, the researchers, from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics and the University Observatory Munich, performed an analysis on the Sun by combining sunlight from the Kiepenheuer Institute's solar telescope in Tenerife with the light of an LFC. Both sources of light were injected into a single optical fibre which then delivered the light to a spectrograph for analysis.

Lead author of the study Rafael Probst, of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, said: "An important aspect of our work is that we use a single-mode fibre, which takes advantage of the wave nature of light to enable a very clean and stable beam at its output. This type of fibre is quite common in telecom and laser applications, but its applications in astronomy are still largely unexplored. The LFC at the solar telescope on Tenerife is the first installation for astronomical use based on single-mode fibres.

"Our results show that if the LFC light and the sunlight are simultaneously fed through the same single-mode fibre, the obtained calibration precision improves by about a factor of 100 over a temporally separated fibre transmission.

"We then obtain a calibration precision that keeps up with the best calibration precision ever obtained on an astrophysical spectrograph, and we even see considerable potential for further improvement."

Indeed, the researchers envisage using the new technique to not only study the star at the centre of our solar system, but stars much further away from us, particularly to find Earth-like planets that may be orbiting around them.

When a planet orbits a star, the star does not stay completely stationary, but instead moves in a very small circle or ellipse. When viewed from a distance, these slight changes in speed cause the star's light spectrum to change--a process known as a Doppler shift.

If the star is moving towards the observer, then its spectrum would appear slightly shifted towards the blue end of the spectrum; if it is moving away, it will be shifted towards the red end of the spectrum.

The researchers believe that an LFC would allow them to measure these Doppler shifts much more accurately and therefore increase the chances of spotting Earth-sized, habitable planets.

With conventional calibration techniques, the researchers state that they could measure a change in speed of roughly 1 m/s over large time periods; an LFC could enable measurements with an accuracy of 1 cm/s.

"In astronomy, LFCs are still a novelty and non-standard equipment at observatories. This however, is about to change, and LFC-assisted spectroscopy is envisioned to have a flourishing future in astronomy. Our present work shows how future astronomical LFCs could be utilized," Probst concludes.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Institute of Physics
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
Scientists predict earth-like planets around most stars
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Feb 06, 2015
Planetary scientists have calculated that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life. The new research, led by PhD student Tim Bovaird and Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver from The Australian National University (ANU), made the finding by applying a 200 year old idea to the thousands of exo-planets discovered by the Kepler space telesc ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo samples refines lunar impact history

NASA releases video of the far side of the Moon

US Issuing Licenses for Mineral Mining on Moon

LRO finds lunar hydrogen more abundant on Moon's pole-facing slopes

EXO WORLDS
The highest plume ever observed on Mars

Mars One cuts list of potential colonists to 100

Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists

Up, Up and Away! First Humans Chosen for Mission to Mars

EXO WORLDS
The ISS Menu: Mayo, Espressos, Booze? Cosmonauts Reveal Their Secrets

Sensors Detect Icing Conditions to Help Protect Airplanes

Industry: Risk aversion costs more than 'fast failure'

Boeing's Space Efforts to Be Managed by Newly Created Organization

EXO WORLDS
More Astronauts for China

China launches the FY-2 08 meteorological satellite successfully

China's Long March puts satellite in orbit on 200th launch

Countdown to China's new space programs begins

EXO WORLDS
Spacesuit woes haunt NASA ahead of crucial spacewalks

Russia Launches Fresh Fruit, Oxygen to Crew on ISS

Space Station 3-D Printed Items, Seedlings Return in the Belly of a Dragon

NASA preparing to reassemble International Space Station

EXO WORLDS
Moog offers "SoftRide" for enhanced spacecraft protection during launch

Russian-Ukrainian Satan Rocket to Launch South Korean Satellite as Planned

Leaders share messages, priorities at AFA Symposium

Soyuz Installed at Baikonur, Expected to Launch Wednesday

EXO WORLDS
Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

The mystery of cosmic oceans and dunes

Scientists predict earth-like planets around most stars

"Vulcan Planets" - Inside-Out Formation of Super-Earths

EXO WORLDS
Arachnid Rapunzel: Researchers spin spider silk proteins into artificial silk

Breakthrough may lead to industrial production of graphene devices

New design tool for metamaterials

New self-stretching material developed at University of Rochester




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.