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Rachael Roettenbacher and Fellow Yale Astronomers Develop Breakthrough Technique in Search of Earth-like Planets

Stars in space.

An international team of researchers at Yale University led by 51 Pegasi b Fellow Rachael Roettenbacher and astronomers Sam Cabot and Debra Fischer have developed a breakthrough technique to search for Earth-like planets in other solar systems.

The new technique uses a combination of data from ground-based and orbiting telescopes to distinguish between light signals coming from stars and signals coming from planets orbiting those stars.

“Our techniques pull together three different types of contemporaneous observations to focus on understanding the star and what its surface looks like,” said Roettenbacher. “From one of the data sets, we create a map of the surface that allows us to reveal more detail in the radial velocity data as we search for signals from small planets. This procedure shows the value of obtaining multiple types of observation at once.”

A study detailing the discovery has been accepted by The Astronomical Journal. You can read the study here, and find more information on Yale University’s press release.

The Heising-Simons Foundation also supported Yale co-author Debra Fischer’s 100 Earths Project and EXPRES (EXtreme PREcision Spectrometer) instrument, which provided critical data for the project.