February 25, 2024

A new Swiss instrument studies planets in distant galaxies

A new Swiss instrument has been installed on the European Southern Observatory’s (Eso) Large Telescope in Chile. Among other things, it aims to help search for traces of life on distant planets.

The new tool is a so-called laser frequency comb developed by the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), like this one on Tuesday. Announce.

The laser frequency comb produces light with an exceptionally stable frequency spectrum, which features evenly distributed lines. It serves as a visual standard, CSEM explained. This allows the speed at which the star is moving toward or away from Earth to be determined more precisely.

The new instrument is part of the Near-Infrared Planet Search (NIRPS) instrument, jointly led by the Department of Astronomy at the University of Geneva (Unige) and the University of Montreal (Canada). With the new technology, NIRPS will be calibrated with unprecedented precision and precision, CSEM said. It should help unlock the secrets of distant planets. This also includes searching for traces of extraterrestrial life.

“new era”

By the speed at which the star is moving, researchers can eventually determine whether there are planets orbiting it. Because as the planet orbits the star, its gravity causes the parent star to move back and forth, or “wobble.” The more precise these measurements are, the more researchers can learn about the mass of planets, for example.

The Nirps Consortium expects this device to be a decisive driving force for unlocking the secrets of the universe, CSEM wrote in the statement. “This will enable NERPS to better determine the behavior and properties of Earth-like exoplanets, heralding a new era of discovery and exploration,” the statement said.

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