SGDK664 writes "The University of Arizona's astronomers have developed a way to see faint planets previously hidden by the overwhelming light output of the star they orbit (abstract). At the core of the system is a small piece of glass with a highly complex pattern inscribed into its surface. Called an Apodizing Phase Plate, or APP, the device blocks out the starlight in a very defined way, allowing planets to show up in the image whose signals were previously drowned out by the star's glare. The breakthrough, which may allow observers to even block out starlight completely with further refinements, was made possible through highly complex mathematical modeling. If you're trying to find something that is thousands or a million times fainter than the star, dealing with the halo is a big challenge."
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