Is there life at Alpha Centauri? New space telescope to seek out habitable planets around sun’s neighboring star

A new space telescope mission unveiled today (Nov. 16) will look for habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri system, our sun’s closest stellar neighbors. 

The new mission, called TOLIMAN after an ancient Arabic-derived name for Alpha Centauri, will carry a novel telescope fitted with a so-called diffractive pupil lens that spreads starlight into a flowerlike pattern. This unique lens will make it easier for astronomers using the scope to detect tiny irregularities in a stars’ movements that are usually caused by the gravitational influence of orbiting planets, according to a statement by Breakthrough Initiatives, which is backing the mission.

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