Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Way To Locate Earth-like Worlds

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
One of the reasons it is hard for us to spot Earth-like worlds is because of the brightness of their parent star. A new technique with current technology may find a way of eliminating that brightness and allow us glimpse worlds beyond our solar system.

(MSNBC) A thin plastic "starshade" shaped like a giant daisy flower could one day help astronomers observe faraway planets by blocking out unwanted light from their parent stars, a new study reports.

When telescopes point to a distant planet, the small amount of light reflected by the planet is overshadowed by the light from its parent star, making it especially difficult to be seen. [...]

One way to tackle this problem is to place a shield, known to Sun-watchers as a coronagraph, inside the telescope. In this way, astronomers block out the main light from our own favorite star, providing a view of the environment around it.

If we are able to locate star systems harboring worlds that are favorable, not only would this encourage humanity to explore the stars, but we would have an idea of which direction to head towards in the first place.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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