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March 16, 2020 Monday 11:37:11 AM IST

Precision Instrument to See Distant Stars

Science Innovations

A new the extreme-precision instrument will enable astronomers to see stars beyond our solar system and the Earth-sized planets that may surround them. The device called radial velocity spectrometer was developed by Christian Schwab, an astrophysicist at Macquarie University's Department of Physics and Astronomy. What makes it unique is its accuracy and ability to detect light no human eye could ever see. It is built to detect exoplanets – planets outside our solar system. The device is collecting starlight on the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. It is now searching the skies to discover Earth-mass exoplanets, not by trying to see them, but by measuring the subtle effect these planets have on their parent stars. The spectrometer measures the way the star’s spectral lines are displaced due to the Doppler Effect – in other words, how light from the star is shifted towards the red or blue end of the spectrum.