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Camera to Detect Extrasolar Planets

Mauna Kea Infrared LLC has received a $4.18 million federal grant to build the near-IR coronagraphic imager for use with two 8-m Gemini telescopes. The instrument, which will be used to study the origin and development of extrasolar planetary systems, will correct for atmospheric blurring to obtain sharp images. The camera can help overcome a star's light and halo to detect faint structures associated with evolving planetary systems. It has two imaging channels, each with a 1024 x 1024-pixel IR detector sensitive to 0.8- to 5.5-µm light. The instrument is designed to work in the IR because the planetary structures sought are cooler than the stars they orbit.

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