LIFE, the Advanced Technology That Will Reveal More Extrasolar Someday

NASA/JPL-Caltech

There’s a lot of extrasolar waiting to be uncovered out there, if LIFE and the concept of interferometry are approved by the space agency.

Nationalgeographic.co.id—Time Telescope Outer Space James Webb (JWST) was launched last year, astronomers were surprised and amazed by it. This telescope has an unprecedented sensitivity to peer deeper into space, and uncover distant objects.

Subsequent technological developments will usher in a more powerful, and lighter version of JWST. “If you want to keep getting better angular resolution, then you have to make bigger telescopes—or you have to switch to interferometry,” says Scott GaudiOhio State University astronomer and exoplanet hunter in Popular Science.

Nulling interferometry is an observational technique that collects data about astronomical objects by mixing light from multiple simultaneous views of the same target.

This method refers to how this light can be combined to block the background of an object to enhance the signal coming from a dimmer target. An example is to observe a dim planet, the observations must block the light of the parent star so that the visual signal is stronger.

Compared to other technologies, interferometry would be the best way to dim starlight, even 10 billion times or more. Rocky exoplanets similar to Earth will also be sufficiently disclosed, because scientists have been looking for these as candidates for space life.

Another advantage, this method can be applied because it uses a lighter tool. This is because heavy equipment which is usually equipped with a detector is not used, and the connecting strut is lost between the light collectors.

“Interferometery keeps popping up—over and over again,” said Gaudi. “I think it’s very much in the future.”

In the future, the nulling interferometer will be used through LIFE, stands for Large Interferometer for Exoplanets. The man who made it happen was Sacha Quanz, an astrophysicist at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland.

Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) determined three main mission themes for the coming decades, and the hunt for extrasolar was one of them. quote Sciencethe LIFE concept has become a topic of discussion even though the idea has been around for decades, but the idea is often hindered by technological and financial issues.

Interferometry was first proposed by Stanford University electrical engineer Ronald Barcewell in 1978. The concept was later adopted by ESA and NASA, separately, to create the Darwin missions (1993) and the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (2002).


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