Searching for exoplanets with a laser frequency comb

The discovery of exoplanets and how they might be used to search for extraterrestrial life forms, past or present, is key to understanding the formation of the solar system and the origins of life, particularly when it comes to answering the age-old question: is there life elsewhere in the universe?


2015–present | Research of this kind demands high-precision astronomic spectroscopy, which relies on the accurate calibration of wavelengths measured by spectrographs.

Working with the University of Geneva, CSEM developed a laser frequency comb to ensure the measurement performance and calibration of spectrographs. The first calibration tests – carried out on the GIANO-B spectrograph at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Canary Islands – were successful.

The system’s CSEM-designed architecture, which operates in the near infrared range (1300–1800 nm), relies on standard optical fibers and includes components employed and approved for use in telecommunications, ensuring a highly robust design as well as flawless performance and reliability.

The prototype consists of three easily transportable plates measuring 45 cm x 45 cm - a real asset for routine operations at observatories.