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Starlight-Sifting Instrument Starts Survey

Darkhole

An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system. The collaborative set of high-tech instrumentation and software, called Project 1640, is now operating on the Hale telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California after more than six years of development by researchers and engineers at the American Museum of Natural History, the California Institute of Technology, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The project’s first images demonstrating a new technique that creates extremely precise “dark holes” around stars of interest were presented today at the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation meeting in Amsterdam by Rebecca Oppenheimer, an associate curator in the Museum’s Department of Astrophysics and principal investigator for Project 1640.

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