The telescope is looking for alien worlds in the neighboring star system

The telescope is looking for alien worlds in the neighboring star system

The Stephen Hawking Breakthrough Starshot project teamed up with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to conduct Alpha Centauri exploration for interstellar travel destinations.

After combining with one of the most powerful observatories on the planet to look for exoplanets around a nearby star system, their chances of success increased.

Based on Stephen Hawking's superphysicist claims and venture capitalist Yuri Milner's financing, the astounding $ 100 million project hopes to send nano-probes through interstellar space to the nearby Alpha Centauri star system. Before launching a project involving tiny robotic spacecraft powered by a powerful laser system, you need to find out if there is anything worthwhile to unite with the VLT in Chile.

The key to the agreement signed on Monday was the modification of the VISIR (spectrometer and imager for the middle infrared region) to increase its ability to track small worlds in close orbit to the twin stars of Alpha Centauri. Last year, a potentially habitable planet was found inside the red dwarf Proxima Centauri in the “habitable zone”. The world was called Proxima b. Proxima Centauri is believed to be tied to the Alpha Centauri system, which makes them a triple star system. Where there is one potentially inhabited world, most likely there will be more. For any small planet to have the status of "habitable", it needs to be in the habitable zone of the parent star. It is an ideal temperature region for the emergence and maintenance of life. Liquid water is a necessary condition for life (as we know it) and finding a planetary body as large as the Earth inside the habitable zone is a real breakthrough. In such a place, alien life can flourish. And looking to the future, we can invent technology to go there.

Breakthrough Starshot can be the first preliminary step in a long journey to a new interstellar destination. But first we need to find more tourist destinations like Proxima b.

With the help of the updated VISIR, astronomers will conduct an exhaustive search in 2019. In the course of this company, they will look deep into Alpha Centauri to catch the thermal glow (generating an infrared signal) of any planet rotating close to its star. However, the starlight will completely suppress this signal, so the tool will use the coronagraph, blocking the light and allowing access to the rotation. In addition, VLT uses adaptive optics to eliminate the interference of turbulence in the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere. This will increase the power of the telescope. Although Alpha Centauri is located 4.4 light-years from Earth (Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light-years), the visualization of the infrared signal of an exoplanet will balance on the edge of the VLT capabilities. But there is an even more powerful and potentially revolutionary observatory in the making. The European extremely large telescope (E-ELT) is located in Chile. It will be equipped with a 40-meter primary mirror (4.2 meters for the VLT), which can take a deeper look at the Milky Way and will easily track nearby objects. The building should end in 2024.

Breakthrough Starshot may not be a big step in the desire to physically explore the inhabited worlds in our galaxy. But this is a huge leap in the development of methods used for searches.

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