Less than five light years away sit three stars orbiting each other. You probably remember that one of them, Proxima Centauri, has a planet orbiting in its habitable zone -- which got us really excited about the possibility of life. But what if that star was stolen?
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Last year, Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner hatched an ambitious plan to send a tiny probe to the Alpha Centauri star system. Travelling at 20 per cent the speed of light, the researchers weren't entirely sure how the probe was supposed to stop once it arrived at its destination, or whether it would even be able to. Excitingly, a pair of European scientists now say they have solved the problem.
When astronomers confirmed the discovery of an Earth-sized world orbiting Proxima Centauri just 4.25 light years away, hopes were ignited that there may be more planetary real estate in our cosmic neighbourhood. To find out, a team of ex-NASA scientists is now seeking private funding to scour the Alpha Centauri system for habitable planets.
Earlier today, Stephen Hawking and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner announced a thrilling plan to deploy tiny "nanocrafts" to the second-closest star in search of intelligent life. And in the first post-announcement interview with ABC News, Hawking talks about how the development of interstellar spacecraft will improve life for humans.