Video: Alpha Centauri AB system could have the nearest exoplanets

If there are planets around the double star Alpha Centauri AB, they're a mere 4 light-years distant, a remove so small we might actually be able to send space probes there in the foreseeable future.

However, everyone agrees that it would be considerably more interesting to explore this system if it houses a habitable world.  To date, there's no compelling evidence of any planets in the vicinity of the Centauri pair. Now, two scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center, Ruslan Belikov and Eduardo Bendek, think it's possible to find out not only if such worlds exist, but also learn if any are habitable. 

These scientists propose to launch a small telescope into orbit, outfitted with a device to block the blinding glow of the two stars, to search for habitable worlds.  Because this is a special-purpose instrument, optimized for this one target only, it could be built for a relatively small amount of money.  The SETI Institute is partnering with their project, both in technology development and fundraising.

Check out this video, and watch the intriguing story of Mission Centaur.


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Planets at Alpha Centauri?

Provided by SETI Institute
Citation: Video: Alpha Centauri AB system could have the nearest exoplanets (2016, July 25) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-07-video-alpha-centauri-ab-nearest.html
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Jul 25, 2016
I hope some of you enjoyed seeing the latest Star Trek movie over the weekend. Always a pleasure to see the U.S.S. Enterprise cruising about the galaxy, making discoveries. But it is frustrating knowing we don't have the science to make it so. If you want to plant the seeds for the development of something like warp drive, begin by giving people a real reason to get out there, like the nearest potentially habitable planet ("Earth Proxima") in the Alpha Centauri system. If we have a compelling reason to travel that far, history suggests that sooner or later we will find a way to do it.

For our times, returning to the moon for the first time since 1972, and sending people to Mars, should be a little easier for the public to support if they understand our manifest destiny is to travel to "Proxima Earth" someday.

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