Skip to comments.Optical Vortex Coronagraph Could Look Directly At Extrasolar Planets
Posted on 12/01/2005 7:51:55 PM PST by KevinDavis
A new optical device might allow astronomers to view extrasolar planets directly without the annoying glare of the parent star. It would do this by "nulling" out the light of the parent star by exploiting its wave nature, leaving the reflected light from the nearby planet to be observed in space-based detectors.
The device, called an optical vortex coronagraph, is described in the December 15, 2005 issue of Optics Letters.
About ten years ago the presence of planets around stars other than our sun was first deduced by the very tiny wobble in the star's spectrum of light imposed by the mutual tug between the star and its satellite. Since then more than 100 extrasolar planets have been detected in this way. Also, in a few cases the slight diminution in the star's radiation caused by the transit of the planet across in front of the star has been observed.
(Excerpt) Read more at spacedaily.com ...
Sounds a bit snake-oily t'me... Seems nothing could be easier than the current way of masking-out the center of the image. If they'd provide a ray-trace diagram to show how a 'ramp' could effect the same function as a mask then that'd be one thing; the three sets of colored dots with the article by themselves prove nothing.
Dr. Who had one of those. Or was it a flux capacitor?
The original article appears in Optics Letters and requires a fee for article downloads, but judging from the various titles there, it ain't a bunch of pseudo scientific charlatans. From the brief explanation given in the linked reference, it sounds like it might exploit very subtle differences in circular polarization of the incoming starlight to resolve it beyond limits imposed by the conventional diffraction limited Rayleigh criterion, and if it works, will be a great addition to observational astronomy.
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