Breakthrough Starshot's modification is meant to allow the VLT to discover more planets in Alpha Centauri.
Despite all of these promising developments, there's no guarantee that ESO and Breakthrough Initiatives will be able to find or visit habitable planets-Alpha Centauri gets blasted with harmful solar radiation, and interstellar gas and dust could damage a spacecraft before it even reached the star system. Starshot's ultimate goal is to send thousands of nano-probes, each weighing a few grams, to Alpha Centauri.
An upgrade to Chile's Very Large Telescope could pave the way for a fleet of mini-probes to boldly go where no probe has gone before.
Suspect Sought in Shooting of U.S. Consular Officer in Guadalajara
USA authorities have not as of Monday morning local time confirmed the arrested man's identity or that of the diplomat who was shot.
"Detecting a habitable planet is an enormous challenge due to the brightness of the planetary system's host star, which tends to overwhelm the relatively dim planets".
Therefore, researchers made a decision to take on this challenge using coronography, a technique that consists of blocking the light from stars, so planets become more easily observable. At about 4.3 light-years away, it is the closest system to the Earth and made news a year ago when astronomers discovered an Earth-like planet, Proxima B, floating around Proxima Centauri, one of the three stars in the system. A new coronagraph, like the one seen in the image above, is also being developed.
Breakthrough Starshot now focuses on observation, but it has far-reaching plans to launch nano spacecraft to Alpha Centauri looking for planets suitable for human life. This will enhance the way the observatory hunts for planets because it comes with special, adaptive optics that will counter the distortions of light passing through the Earth's atmosphere and reduce the blinding light coming off of host stars. The other two stars in the system are a binary pair, named Alpha Centauri A (also named Rigil Kentaurus) and Alpha Centauri B. These two spin around each other every 79 years, separated by about the same distance as our sun and Pluto. For instance, it may allow the VLT to employ the technique known as coronagraphy, which reduces stellar light and could reveal signals coming from potential exoplanets. That's far faster than we've ever gone, but scientists at the Breakthrough Initiative say there's no reason it won't work - it's just that no one has done it yet. It's possible astronomers won't find anything at all, or the planets they do find won't be located in the habitable zones of these stars. "Normally this is something funding agencies don't [fund], but Breakthrough Initiatives have created the excitement and resources to do these kinds of things".