New tool could help find Earth-like planets

New tool could help find Earth-like planets

In a new study, researchers have developed a new astronomical spectrograph called Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF).

The new tool could provide the highest precision measurements of infrared signals from nearby stars.

It could help scientists detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside the Solar System.

HPF can show precise measurement of a star’s radial velocity. It measures the subtle change in the color of the star’s spectra as it is tugged by an orbiting planet.

The information is critical for discovery and confirmation of new planets.

The research was led by a team from Penn State University.

HPF, coupled to the 10-meter Hobby Eberly Telescope, is currently located at McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin.

It focuses on low-mass planets around cool nearby M dwarf stars in Habitable Zones.

The regions are chosen because liquid water might exist there on a planet’s surface.

HPF uses near-infrared light to observe these stars at wavelengths where they are brighter and less active.

Previous studies have shown that M dwarf stars host rocky planets, but these stars are hard to observe due to their size and their magnetic activity.

While this is a problem for existing visible light instruments, it is not too difficult for HPF.

In HPF, the team added a calibrator called a laser frequency comb to increase precision.

The laser bomb could separate individual wavelengths of light into separate lines and could be used as a ruler to calibrate the near-infrared energy from the stars.

The team has used the tool to show near-infrared radial velocity precision with observations of Barnard’s Star.

Barnard’s Star is one of the closest stars to the Sun.

The team hopes to use this tool to find Earth-like planets that orbit in the habitable zone of the nearest stars.

The lead researcher of the HPF project is Suvrath Mahadevan, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State.

The US National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation and Advanced Technology & Instrumentation programs, Penn State, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology support the project.

The study is published in Optica.

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Further reading: Optica.