Video with Thomas Henning and Markus Feldt produced by Klaus Jäger about the remarkable instrument SPHERE (Spectro - Polarimetric Contrast Exo Planet Search) at ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Taking direct images of exoplanets is one of the most challenging tasks in observational astronomy for two reasons. First, the difference in brightness between the star and its planet is extremely large. Second, the apparent separation of such planets from their parent star is very small due to their large distance from Earth. Direct observations therefore require both extremely high contrast and the best possible resolution.