Whereas coronagraphy is the tried-and-true method for suppressing starlight, astronomers are developing a more intricate method called nulling interferometry. This technique has been demonstrated only recently, but it holds great promise.
Nulling interferometry will allow Hinz's team to study remnant dust disks around other stars like the solar-system dust that gives rise to the zodiacal light.
One option is to launch several small telescopes to fly in formation and perform nulling interferometry in the infrared.
To examine the dust disk encircling a young star 330 light-years away, scientists at the University of Arizona in Tucson used an emerging technique called nulling interferometry
to block out the star's light.
Nulling interferometry should be an effective way to get rid of the overpowering starlight and reveal faint objects around it.
Ground-based observations using nulling interferometry first took place in 1997 at the Multiple Mirror Telescope on Mount Hopkins, Arizona, and within a few years the technique will be tested at the twin 8.4-meter Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham, Arizona.