Astronomers have come up with a giant space curtain to search for Earth's twin

Astronomers have come up with a giant space curtain to search for Earth's twin
Astronomers have come up with a giant space curtain to search for Earth's twin
Anonim

Swedish scientists have proposed launching a large occult for ground-based telescopes into orbit to facilitate direct observation of Earth-like planets outside the solar system. An article describing the idea was published in the arxiv.org repository.

The main obstacle to observing exoplanets with a telescope is that their stars are very bright, and due to the huge distance from the Earth, the angular distance between planets and stars is very small, so that they are seen almost at the same point. To overcome this, astronomers try to block out the light of the star using a variety of "shutters": a coronagraph, if the shading device is placed inside the telescope, or an occult, if it is an external device.

Space telescopes are free of atmospheric interference, but their size is limited. On the contrary, at the moment two ground-based observatories are being built on Earth, whose mirror is more than 30 meters in diameter: ELT in Chile and Thirty-meter telescope in Hawaii. For effective operation, the occult must be located at a certain distance from the lens, which in the case of giant telescopes will force it to be placed on multi-kilometer poles.

Alternatively, Markus Janson of Stockholm University and his colleagues suggested launching the occult into space in a pre-planned orbit. According to scientists, a light curtain made of thin material can be launched on a rocket folded, and then deployed to a size of about 100 meters.

The trajectory must be chosen in such a way that the occult is between the telescope and the star for as long as possible, that is, the orbit will be very high. In addition, in order to accurately "hit" the desired star, but not the exoplanet, it will be necessary to correct the trajectory with millimeter precision.

As a result, scientists expect the occult to dim the star by ten orders of magnitude. This will give scientists the opportunity to get a direct image of a relatively small planet orbiting a short distance from a bright star, that is, similar to the Earth.

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