Published: 3:42 PM 6/6/2013
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Will we see UFO, Aliens?
It is one of the best news for astronomers. Stellar alignment is set to boost hunt for closest alien planet. Will we see UFO, Aliens?
This may set a new path towards the discovery of an alien planet close enough to Earth. In the event that would take place twice during the next three years, the alignment of the stars would help the planet hunters in tracing and probing the nearest alien planet near red dwarf Proxima Centauri.
In a press release issued, NASA revealed that a rare stellar alignment has opened up two opportunities for its Hubble Space Telescope to look for alien planets near red dwarf Proxima Centauri in the next few years. The two occasions will come October 2014 and February 2016. The dates have been predicted using the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Speaking about the discovery during the 222nd meeting of American Astronomical Society in Indianapolis, Kailash Sahu, an astronomer with the Space Science Telescope Institute in Baltimore and who led the team of scientists, said:
"Proxima Centauri’s trajectory offers a most interesting opportunity because of its extremely close passage to the two stars. This is an opportunity to determine the mass of Proxima, and also detect planets up to 4 AU [astronomical units] around Proxima Centauri, because Proxima Centauri is so close to Earth, the area of sky warped by its gravitation field is larger than for more distant stars.
"This makes it easier to look for shifts in apparent stellar position caused by this effect. However, the position shifts will be too small to be perceived by any but the most sensitive telescopes in space and on the ground. The European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope on Mt. Cerro Paranal in Chile may be able to make measurements comparable to Hubble’s."
Commenting upon the discovery the authorities at the Northwestern College said: "Though red dwarfs make up for more than 50 percent of stars in the Milky way, not one of them is visible to the naked eye in the northern hemisphere."
It may be noted that earlier too the scientists undertook futile attempts looking for planets around the Proxima Centauri. This time the scientists are quite hopeful that the rare stellar alignment will give them the opportunity to spot smaller terrestrial planets, if they exist, by looking for micro lensing effects.
Microlensing refers to the special case of gravitational lensing where the multiple images produced are too close together on the sky to be observed as separate images. However, the lensing can still be detected because these multiple images appear as a single object of increased apparent brightness. This time NASA too is quite hopeful that through micro lensing effect they would be able to measure the mass of Proxima Centauri thus understanding its diameter, temperature, intrinsic brightness and longevity.
It may be noted that Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.24 light-years from Earth, is a red dwarf, meaning it’s cooler and smaller than our own sun. Red dwarfs are known to be most common stars in the Milky Way thus making up about 75 percent of the galaxy’s stellar population. Proxima is part of the three-star Alpha Centauri system, the closest solar system to our own.
A scorching-hot rocky exoplanet roughly the size of Earth was discovered circling Alpha Centauri B, another star in the system, last year.