Earth-like Exoplanets & Gravitational Microlensing | Andor

Earth-like Exoplanets

Gravitational Microlensing

The fast readout speeds, negligible readout noise, high spatial resolution and photometric accuracy of Andor’s ultrasensitive iXon 897 EMCCD cameras improve the chances of discovering planets outside our solar system.

The prospect of success in the search for Earth-like exoplanets capable of supporting life is being enhanced with the adoption of the Andor iXon 897 EMCCD camera. The ultra-sensitive EMCCD device was chosen by the Stellar Observation Network Group (SONG) following a study led by Kennet Harpsoe from the Centre for Star and Planet Formation in Copenhagen.

Fig. 1 Image of Globular Cluster NGC 6981

Kennet Harpsoe’s SONG is building their global network of robotic one-metre telescopes around the ultra-sensitive iXon 897 EMCCD camera. The ground-breaking improvement in spatial resolution offered by the iXon 897 was also instrumental in Jesper Skottfelt’s latest discovery of two new variable stars in the crowded central region of the globular cluster NGC 6981 (see Figure 1). SONG are delighted to be playing such a pivotal role.

This shows that the camera’s ability to produce images at very high readout speeds and negligible readout noise, even at very low light levels, is ideal for their high frame rate application. The study also shows that this ground-breaking improvement in spatial resolution is not at the expense of photometric accuracy or stability and could improve significantly the photometry of faint stars in extremely dense fields by alleviating crowding.

‘Rare gravitational microlensing events, where a star’s gravitational field deviates the light from a background source, enable us to detect objects as small as an Earthlike exoplanet,’ says Kennet Harpsoe of SONG. ‘However, the likelihood that two random stars become sufficiently aligned is vanishingly small and almost all microlensing events occur towards the centre of the Galaxy in the densest fields in the night sky. Consequently, the stars appear as a continuum, where only the brightest stars can be distinguished as individual stars.

‘The significant improvement in resolution,fast readout times and negligible readout noise brought about by the Andor EMCCD camera is a prerequisite for successfully observing gravitational microlensing events. Our work demonstrates that SONG’s quest to find small, earth-like exoplanets capable of supporting life through our global network of robotic telescopes can go forward with confidence’, concludes Harpsoe. In the 17 years since the discovery of the first planet in orbit around another star, more than 600 exoplanets have been detected. However, almost all are so-called ‘Hot Jupiters’ or ‘Roaster Planets’, giant planets orbiting close to their parent stars with very high surface temperatures, simply because they are the easiest to visualise. To date, telescopic detection of small Earth-like objects capable of supporting life has remained virtually impossible.

Gravitational microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon discussed by Einstein in 1915. It occurs when the light from a distant star or planet is bent due to the gravitational field of a foreground object when they are sufficiently aligned, leading to two unresolved images and observable brightening. Since microlensing observations do not rely on the radiation received from the lens object, astronomers can study objects no matter how faint. Therefore, it is an ideal technique to study the galactic population of faint or dark objects, such as brown dwarfs, red dwarfs, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes and exoplanets. Since the microlensing effect is wavelength-independent, source objects emitting any kind of electromagnetic radiation may be studied.

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Publications Database
The bright star survey telescope for the planetary transit survey in Antarctica
Evaluation of genetic damage in tobacco and arsenic exposed population of Southern Assam, India using buccal cytome assay and comet assay
Chloroquine-induced glioma cells death is associated with mitochondrial membrane potential loss, but not oxidative stress
First Demonstration of Imaging Cosmic Muons in a Two-Phase Liquid Argon TPC using an EMCCD Camera and a THGEM
The state of Pluto's atmosphere in 2012–2013
Study of three 2013 novae: V1830 Aql, V556 Ser and V809 Cep
The influence of the tube diameter on the properties of an atmospheric pressure He micro-plasma jet
Optimising the signal-to-noise ratio in measurement of photon pairs with detector arrays
Statistics of twin-beam states by photon-number resolving detectors up to pump depletion
The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in twin images
Spatial properties of twin-beam correlations at low-to high-intensity transition
Coherence properties of high-gain twin beams generated in pump-depletion regime
The planetary nebula IPHASXJ211420. 0+ 434136 (Ou5): insights into common-envelope dynamical and chemical evolution
Precursor flares in OJ 287
Comprehensive time series analysis of the transiting extrasolar planet WASP-33b
The influence of non-imaging detector design on heralded ghost-imaging and ghost-diffraction examined using a triggered ICCD camera
Finding Very Small Near-Earth Asteroids using Synthetic Tracking
EMCCD photometry reveals two new variable stars in the crowded central region of the globular cluster NGC 6981
The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS)
High-speed photometry of faint cataclysmic variables-VIII. Targets from the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey

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