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University academics have developed a tool they believe could help discover the “first Earth-like planet”.

Physicists from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge have developed a laser system that they say could help identify the “telltale signs” of hidden planets. The new tool is intended to offer a more accurate study of the spectrum of light from nearby stars, allowing for sensitive measurements of how the universe is expanding.

The system, known as astrocomb, allows for “extremely sensitive wavelength measurements” of the light spectrum, potentially “tens of hundreds of times better” than current technology, professor Derryck Reid from Heriot-Watt University said.

It is the first-ever tool capable of “continuous coverage” from the ultraviolet to the blue-green spectrum, which “is rich in the atomic absorption features of interest to astronomers”, he added.

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