Image Credit: NASA
The more exoplanets we find and study, the closer we get to figuring out if life exists somewhere else in the universe.
But finding exoplanets is a tricky business. That’s why NASA engineers are developing a giant, flower-shaped starshade to block out starlight and make it easier for astronomers to spot them.
Normally, astronomers find exoplanets by waiting for them to pass directly in front of their host stars; the temporary dip in brightness can tip us off to their existence.
This is a difficult method to use, though. Exoplanets are extremely far away, so they appear very small and faint to us. And with all the background starlight, it’s a wonder we can spot them at all.
It’s very likely that we’ve missed some exoplanets and even gotten some false positives for planets that aren’t really there. The starshade will correct…
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