[ Read the Article: First Light For SPHERE Exoplanet Imager ]
This animation shows the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument. An instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope with the primary objective of discovering and studying extrasolar giant planets orbiting nearby stars.
It demonstrates adaptive optics, a process used to take out the atmosphere’s blurring effect as much as possible and bring most of the light from a star together into one bright dot. The center of this bright dot is then blocked out by introducing a mask into the light beam to avoid swamping the fainter nearby objects.
Credit: ESO / L. Calçada / Nick Risinger