Searching for Earth-Like Worlds Just Got Easier Thanks to This ESPRESSO Instrument

Space.com | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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The search for Earth-like planets just got a major upgrade: The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile successfully integrated the light from all four of its 8.2-meter (27 feet) unit telescopes into a new instrument, making VLT the optical telescope with the largest collecting area in the world.

The upgrade will make it easier for scientists to use the observatory to search for faint, rocky planets around distant stars, ESO representatives said in a statement.

ESPRESSO - Instrument - European - Southern - Observatory

The ESPRESSO instrument on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile successfully combined light from four 8.2-meter unit telescopes for the first time, making VLT the optical telescope with the largest collecting area in the world.

Another instrument, called the VLT Interferometer, commonly combines the light from all four unit telescopes, but ESPRESSO does it differently. Interferometry combines multiple telescopes to make observations. The effective size of the telescope "mirror" is the same as the distance between the individual telescopes. Interferometry also takes the phase of an object's light waves into account to form an image.

ESPRESSO - Contrast - Power - Telescopes - Power

ESPRESSO, by contrast, is designed to exploit the light-gathering power of the individual telescopes. It has the light-collecting power of a 16-meter (52 feet) telescope. Light gathering is important for telescopes because, as they receive more photons of light, fainter objects appear brighter. Bigger telescopes typically see distant objects such as galaxies more easily because they have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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