Proxima Centauri to Bend Starlight for Planet Hunt

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posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 03:37 PM
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I thought this was too cool to pass:

Proxima Centauri to Bend Starlight for Planet Hunt


Scientists looking for planets around the star nearest to the solar system will soon get a helping hand from Mother Nature.

Our neighbor star, Proxima Centauri, will line up very closely with a background star in October 2014 and then again with another star in February 2016, relative to Earth’s line of sight.

The geometry will enable astronomers to take advantage of a fanciful but practical ramification of Einstein’s general relatively theory, which explains how gravity curves space (and time — but that’s another story.)

Sometimes when gravity bends light waves, objects that previously weren’t visible can be seen. When Proxima Centauri aligns with background stars, astronomers want to measure the distorted views of the background stars to get a more precise calculation of our neighbor’s mass. The idea is that if Proxima Centauri has any planets in orbit, they may cause a secondary shift in the background stars’ positions during the alignments.


From what I can gather, it's a very subtle observation. I think it's really nice that we can even conceive this.




posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 03:47 PM
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Awesome find. S&F. The things we can do nowadays.



posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 03:49 PM
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Awesome, S&F!

Maybe this will be the good method for locating a planet around Proxima Centauri. I think they tried several methods of detecting planets around it, but none proving it so far.



posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 04:20 PM
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Originally posted by Dominar
Awesome, S&F!

Maybe this will be the good method for locating a planet around Proxima Centauri. I think they tried several methods of detecting planets around it, but none proving it so far.


It appears to work the opposite way, i.e. the Proxima acts as the lens. I kind of doubt there is reciprocity in this technique, since the perturbation due to the possible Proxima's planet is way too small.





 
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