We can all observe the planets and dwarf planets of our solar system through telescopes: even distant Pluto appears in the images of the Hubble Space Telescope Blurred sphere. But can today’s instruments also take pictures of planets orbiting other stars? We now know of more than 4000 such exoplanets. But in most cases they are far from being seen next to the brightest star. So far, their existence has only been indirectly predicted, for example, by the planets darkening their star slightly or shaking it very little as they pass.
There are only a few exceptions Especially the big gas giants As well as planetary nuclei that appear as bright handles Peel off the dust disks. But soon there may also be images of smaller exoplanets, orbiting in very close star formation. This is the possibility of a new special instrument that astronomers have connected to the largest telescope (VLT) in Chile.
A hot Neptune hunt
The team used it to monitor our neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri, four light years away, for 100 hours, with two suns orbiting each other. With the NEAR instrument specially designed for this purpose, planets up to the size of Neptune can now be observed in the habitable zone of Alpha Centauri A, writes a team around Kevin Wagner of the University of Arizona In Nature Communications.
The largest telescope helps to search the area around two alpha centauri stars for heat radiation in the vicinity (new earths in the Alpacen region). To do this, the device hides one of the two suns every second and processes the data with a sophisticated computer program. Thanks to this technology, according to the current release, the system can be detected ten times smaller than before.
In fact you can see in the pictures Identify a stainIt may, according to astronomers, be a dull planet. So the world would be slightly larger than Neptune and would not have a solid surface. The team insists on being very careful in this regard: transparent pixels can easily become meaningless pictorial art of innovative technology.
The $ 3 million project was funded by the Brigade Watch initiative as part of a philanthropic effort by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. Over the past few years he has embarked on high-risk space projects such as the initiative Breakthrough StarshotWho at one point wanted to shoot small probes at Alpha Centauri.
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