Gene Stowe | November 14, 2014
Justin Crepp, the Freimann Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, has published a study Thursday (Nov. 13) in the journal Science that details how next-generation planet-hunting instruments will benefit from advancements in infrared technology that change how astronomers capture starlight.
At infrared wavelengths, it becomes possible to sharpen the blurry images normally received by large ground-based telescopes. This influences the design of astronomical instruments. By correcting for Earth’s turbulent atmosphere, researchers can dramatically enhance the sensitivity of techniques that reveal the periodic pull of a planet’s gravity on its parent star.
“For 20 years, we’ve been doing the same thing at visible wavelengths,” Crepp said. “If you move out to the infrared, you can access different types of stars, and you can also build different types of instruments. There are a number of interesting physical effects. One of them is that you can use adaptive optics to correct for distortions caused by Earth’s atmosphere. Using crisp images completely modifies the design of your instrument.”