An AI sensor measures the distortion of starlight to identify new...

Scientists at the University of Sydney have invented a sensor that could neutralize the twinkle of a star and help astronomers find new planets in distant solar systems.

The sensor uses an advanced light converter and AI to measure and correct for the distortion of starlight caused by Earth’s atmosphere. It is now being installed on the 8.2 m long Subaru telescope on the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, one of the largest optical-infrared telescopes in the world.

“The main method of identifying planets orbiting distant stars is to measure regular breaks in starlight caused by planets blocking parts of their sun,” said study director Dr. Barnaby Norris in a statement.

“It’s very difficult from the ground, so we had to develop a new way of looking at the stars. We also wanted to find a way to observe these planets directly from Earth. ”

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The “photonic wavefront sensor” will help astronomers map exoplanets directly around stars distant from Earth.

“In contrast to conventional wavefront sensors, it can be placed in the same place in the optical instrument where the image is generated,” explained Dr. Norris. “This means that it is sensitive to types of distortion that are invisible to other wavefront sensors currently used in large observatories.”

You can read the full research study in Nature Communications.

Published on October 21, 2020 – 17:32 UTC

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