Giant Telescope joins breakthrough hunt for planets in Alpha Centauri

 11 Jan 2017 - 10:35

Giant Telescope joins breakthrough hunt for planets in Alpha Centauri
A handout image released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on January 9, 2016 shows the closest stellar system to the Sun, the bright double star Alpha Centauri AB and its distant and faint companion Proxima Centauri. AFP PHOTO / EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY/ BABAK TAFRESHI( / Digitized Sky Survey 2


Santiago: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has teamed up with Breakthrough Initiatives - a private firm dedicated to seeking life elsewhere in the big universe - to use its massive telescope in Chile to search for planets in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri. 

Breakthrough Initiatives is host to Breakthrough Starshot, which aims to send space probes the size of a postage stamp to the Alpha Centauri system, the closest star system to Earth. 

This involves Proxima Centauri, the third and faintest star in the system discovered earlier this year.

The focus is a potentially rocky planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, called Proxima b, which makes its rounds in an area where its surface temperature might be conducive for liquid water and fuels the possibility of finding more potentially livable planets out there. In the new partnership, the organization will help fund an upgrade to an instrument on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, rendering it ideal for the job ahead.