from the I-can-see-clearly-now dept.
To improve the ability of telescopes to directly image exoplanets, rather than blocking light using a coronagraph, deformable mirrors could be used to bounce photons from different light sources into different sensors. The "multi-star wavefront control" method could help account for multiple light sources, which is useful for binary stars and other multiple star systems which are common in our galaxy:
Technology in development could capture images from an Earth-size planet in the nearby Alpha Centauri system in the 2020s, new research suggests. The new technique, presented Dec. 15 at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in New Orleans, could also help researchers see exoplanets in other systems with more than one star.
[...] Although scientists could conceivably use more than one coronagraph to block out the light from all the stars in a multiple system, tiny imperfections within the components of a telescope would inevitably cause light to leak through a coronagraph, Belikov said. "This light is only a small fraction of the original star's light but can still overwhelm planets, which are much fainter still," he told Space.com.Belikov and his colleagues have developed a way to get around that issue and image exoplanets in multiple-star systems.
[...] The new method the researchers have devised, known as the multi-star wavefront control, relies on deformable mirrors within telescopes that are used to bounce light from stars and planets onto sensors. These mirrors can alter the shape of their surfaces to correct for imperfections within the optical components of telescopes.
[...] A major advantage of this new system "is that it is compatible with many already-designed instruments," Belikov said. "A deformable mirror is all that's needed, which is almost always present with modern coronagraphs." Ideally, "we hope to infuse our technology into future space telescopes to enable them to target Alpha Centauri and other binaries," Belikov said. "These range from small telescopes like ACESat or Project Blue that can be launched in the early 2020s, WFIRST in the mid-2020s, and LUVOIR or HabEx in the 2030s. There are also telescopes on the ground that can use this technology."
Also at ExtremeTech.