New deep space goggles grab molecules and tell us what’s out there
Of what stuff are exoplanets made?
With the long reach of spectral analysis, international Project 1640 is pioneering a new technique of studying planetary bodies and their origins. Named in honor of 1640 nanometers, the wavelength that infrared light works best, the project (working at Hale telescope) has uncovered the signatures of molecules in the atmosphere of four worlds simultaneously. The method shows promise at delivering lots of data and deeper insight into the origins of planets well beyond our solar system.
All, of course, leading to the singular question: can these planets support life?
The four spots lettered b to e are planets. The star is at the centre of the blacked-out circle. This is a composite image using 30 wavelengths of light and was obtained over a period of 1.25 hours in June 2012 (Image: Project 1640)
from New Scientist.