Very Large Telescope To Search For Planets In Alpha Centauri

Posted: Jan 10 2017, 6:52am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Very Large Telescope to Search for Planets in Alpha Centauri
The foreground of this image shows ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The rich stellar backdrop to the picture includes the bright star Alpha Centauri, the closest stellar system to Earth. Credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO
  • In late 2016 ESO signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Initiatives to adapt the VLT instrumentation to conduct a search for planets in the Alpha Centauri system.

ESO has signed an agreement with the Breakthrough Starshot to use Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile to search for planets around Alpha Centauri’s orbits. Such planets could be the targets for an eventual launch of miniature space probes by the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative.

An agreement signed by ESO will prove a breakthrough step for a large telescope in Chile to explore planets in Alpha Centauri. These planets would become targets for a launch of spaceprobes.

Director General, Tim de Zeeuw represented ESO, signed an agreement to take an important initiatives, also represented by Pete Worden, Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives.

This agreement also funded VLT Imager and Spectrometer for mid-Infrared, that’s installed at ESO's Very Large Telescope ,VLT that need modification to enhance the exploration of planets around Alpha Centauri. The agreement has also given enough time for telescope search process that would happen in 2019.

Lots of data was also collected by Proxima b planet in 2016 that was detected in Proxima Centauri which is a less visible star of Alpha Centauri, according to

This search of the exoplanets is important for the research and engineering programmer launched in April 2016, named Starshot. The basic purpose of the program is to prove the idea of nanocraft that would cause a first launch to Alpha Centauri.

It’s difficult to detect dim stars, but VISIR on the VLT would be able to capture high quality image through adaptive optics following a technique named coronagraph that will reduce stellar light, revealing the planets.

This experiment will cost high, and would be funded by breakthrough initiatives for its development. The hardware consists of KTO, Kampf Telescope Optics, and Munich that will host both calibration detector device and wave front sensor.

University of Liège (Belgium) and Uppsala University (Sweden)will also create a coronagraph.

E-ELT will detect the habitable planets that orbit other stars. E-ELT is European Extremely Large Telescope that can capture long distance planets in the galaxy. But, on the other hand VLT is capable enough to capture a planet around Alpha Centauri.

E-ELT would also help METIS detect exoplanets and habitable planets across adjacent stars.

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