View Full Version : Planet Finding Instrument Should Allow Many Discoveries

2006-Jan-12, 04:56 AM
SUMMARY: A new instrument called Exoplanet Tracker has turned up an extrasolar planet orbiting a star 100 light years away. This instrument is designed to detect subtle shifts in starlight as a star moves back and forth through interactions with its planet. The Exoplanet Tracker is much cheaper than traditional spectrographs, costing only $200,000, and capable of being installed on lower power telescopes. Although this version can only watch one star at a time, future improvements should allow it to monitor 100 stars simultaneously.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/new_planet_finder_first.html)
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2006-Jan-12, 04:17 PM
The new camera is described as an interferometer. While I've heard of using an interferometer on a single telescope, there are muliple light sources to interfere, by breaking up the original aperture into two or three chunks. Even then, the total light used is less than one gets with a standard camera. So what, exactly, is this instrument?

2006-Jan-12, 06:08 PM
There's a description of the instrument here. (http://www.astro.ufl.edu/et/instrument.htm)

2006-Jan-17, 08:17 PM
Thanks. It seems that the interferometer used this way yields better frequency data for a given amount of photons. So we're doing the same wobble thing, just with possibly smaller scopes. A 1 meter scope, like that used, has one percent of the light collecting power of the 10 meter keck. It also probably costs one percent as much, so astronomers can actually get the time they need for these very time intensive searches. That's cool. That's more science for the buck.