Video with Thomas Henning and Markus Feldt produced by Klaus Jäger about the remarkable instrument SPHERE (Spectro - Polarimetric High- contrast Exo -planet REsearch) at the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile. (Movie in German, an English version will follow)
Capturing direct images of exoplanets is one of the biggest challenges 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.