HARPS-N Instrument Will Help Confirm Kepler's Planet Finds

February 4, 2011
HARPS-N Instrument Will Help Confirm Kepler's Planet Finds

Cambridge, MA - The search for planets outside our solar system continues to heat up. NASA's Kepler spacecraft has located more than 1,200 planetary candidates, however confirming them remains a challenge. In some circumstances, an eclipsing binary star can mimic the shallow dimming due to a planet crossing in front of its star. Ground-based measurements are needed to verify an orbiting world by spotting the gravitational wobbles it induces in its host star, in a method known as radial velocity.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) continues to be a major player in the planet-hunting realm. CfA is part of an international collaboration building a new instrument called HARPS-North. (HARPS stands for High-Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher.) This precision spectrograph is designed to detect the tiny radial-velocity signal induced by planets as small as Earth, if they orbit close to their star. It will complement Kepler by helping to confirm and characterize Kepler's planetary candidates.

Read the full press release.

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