Penn State University | University of Texas | McDonald Observatory | 2019 Feb 20
A new astronomical spectrograph provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby stars, allowing astronomers to detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside our solar system. The Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) allows precise measurement of a star’s radial velocity, measured by the subtle change in the color of the star’s spectra as it is tugged by an orbiting planet, which is critical information in the discovery and confirmation of new planets.Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) ~ Credit: Guðmundur Stefánssonn, Penn State
The HPF, located at The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, targets low-mass planets around cool nearby red dwarf stars in habitable zones, regions where liquid water might exist on a planet’s surface. Red dwarf stars are known to host rocky planets, but these stars are faint due to their size and their magnetic activity manifests as spots and flares, which pose problems for existing visible-light instruments. Coupled to the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope, HPF instead uses near-infrared light — a type of invisible infrared light closest in wavelength to the visible spectrum — to observe these stars at wavelengths where they are brighter and less active. ...
NIST ‘Astrocomb’ Opens New Horizons for Planet-Hunting Telescope
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) | 2019 Feb 19
Stellar Spectroscopy in the Near-Infrared with a Laser Frequency Comb ~ Andrew J. Metcalf et al