Exoplanets are all the rage nowadays thanks in part to Kepler’s discovery of around 1284 previously undiscovered planets and our never-ending fascination with the “final frontier” that just seems to be moving closer to a reality. But out of the thousands of planets that we know of, how many are set to support life?
Image: John Colosimo/ESO via Wikimedia Commons
In the short documentary “The Search for Earth Proxima”, created by Speculative Films, scientists discuss current missions to discover habitable planets, and the probability is a lot higher than you’d expect. According to the video, one out of every two stars has a potentially habitable planet, or a proper space for one, which they call the “Goldilocks zone”. If you want to narrow down those odds and focus on a specific galaxy, then the possibilities get even greater.
Looking at our closest system neighbour, Alpha Centauri, the odds of finding a habitable planet rise to around 85 per cent. Seems like a good place to start.
The second half of the video takes a look at the current mission to find life in surrounding the Alpha Centauri stars: Mission Centaur. Researchers involved with the Silicon Valley-based nonprofit highlight a specialised telescope. Most telescopes have a way of getting around the brightness of stars blocking the view of orbiting bodies, but most don’t account for a binary star system like Alpha Centauri. This telescope will potentially block the light from both stars, allowing workers on the project to get the best view of the system.
To learn more about the project, watch the video below.