‘Giant telescope’ could visualize continents on exoplanets


A new design for a huge telescope may be able to identify continents on exoplanets. Other habitable planets orbiting other planetary systems are too far away to be observed in detail, but this new telescope concept can solve this problem.

Presented by the Universe Today website, the hypothetical telescope model could identify solid surfaces on exoplanets far from Earth with rich details, using the Sun as a gravitational lens.

Basically, using a gravitational lens is to harness the power of the gravitational field of some space object – in this case, our Sun – to improve the range of the telescope’s lenses. This would require a giant telescope and a state-of-the-art structure, but its advantages are being evaluated by scientists.

“To closely observe and capture an exoplanet, we need very large telescopes,” NASA scientist Slava Turyshev comments to Universe Today. “If we want to see our own Earth in a single pixel 100 light years away, we would need a telescope 90 kilometers in diameter.”

In a simulation, the expected visualization of the Earth itself left the captures in rich detail, allowing a clear view of the Americas and clouds that travel across the planet.

This concept is still only a possibility. It is not certain whether this concept would really return detailed images, but the theories described so far indicate that this would be the result. Exploring these possibilities, even if it is an expensive investment, would still be cheaper than trying to get close to the thousands of exoplanets found by the universe with satellites or spacecraft.


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