Large Binocular Telescope Observatory | Italian National Institute of Astrophysics | 2018 Jan 04
Two new instruments will give the Large Binocular Telescope a set of sharper eyes capable of studying planets outside our solar system in greater detail.
A pair of new-generation instruments to be mounted on the world's largest optical telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT, located on top of Mount Graham in Arizona, will turn the telescope into a formidable hunter of extrasolar planets. Named SHARK (short for System for coronagraphy with High order Adaptive optics from R to K band), the instruments will enable astronomers to obtain direct images of exoplanets, including very faint ones, by more effectively blocking the otherwise overpowering light from their host stars.
INAF, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, is leading the international consortium that will build the instruments and will also manage their scientific use.
SHARK recently has received the official green light from the LBT board, and the two instruments are expected to become fully operational by the end of 2019. SHARK consists of a pair of instruments working synergistically in visible light (SHARK-VIS) and in the near infrared (SHARK-NIR). These will be operated in parallel, taking advantage of the two big 8.4-meter mirrors of the LBT, thus making it the first telescope in the world capable of observing exoplanets simultaneously over such a wide range of wavelengths. ...