Spying on Our Stellar Neighbors: New Strides Made in Alpha Centauri Planet Hunt …
Spying on Our Stellar Neighbors: New Strides Made in Alpha Centauri Planet Hunt
Earth’s lonely sun is an outlier: most of the nearest sun-like stars have a stellar buddy or two in orbit with them. And researchers are getting closer to probing those complicated systems to directly image their planets.
At last winter’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), Space.com reported on a talk by Ruslan Belikov, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, about how to complete a seemingly impossible task: using a deformable mirror to help cancel out the interfering light of two stars in a system like our neighbor, Alpha Centauri, revealing any planets that may lurk in their habitable zones.
This year, we caught up with Belikov and fellow Ames researcher Eduardo Bendek to see how their system’s development has fared over the past year — and what the recent detection of a planet around the star Proxima Centauri (which some astronomers consider to be part of the Alpha Centauri system), and planet-spotting initiatives like Project Blue, mean for the quest to snap a nearby planet’s photo.
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