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Published:June 6th, 2013 16:57 EST
NASA`S Hubble Telescope To Hunt for More Planets During Rare Stellar Alignment

NASA`S Hubble Telescope To Hunt for More Planets During Rare Stellar Alignment

By Ron G Anselm

I guess I can start this article off by saying we are probably not alone out here in this large and mysterious area we call space and within our solar system. NASA will use an opportunity to look for more earth-sized planets in the next few years when Proxima Centauri which is the star closest to the sun passes in front of two other stars between October 2014 and February 2016. This may be a great opportunity for scientists to find other planets the same size as ours to use and test for habitable conditions that are almost the same or the same as Earth.

For astronomers and scientists to be able to plot the exact path of Proxima Centauri they used the data retrieved by the Hubble space telescope. Kailash Sahu who is an astronomer with Space Science Telescope Institute located in Baltimore commented on this by saying, "Proxima Centauri`s trajectory offers a most interesting opportunity because of its extremely close passage to the two stars." (Sahu, K.)

One of the hunting grounds astronomers that scientists and astronomers are targeting when they began looking for more planets will be where the Red Dwarf stars hang out or should I say are congregate in the Milky Way galaxy. Red Dwarf stars are the most common in our solar system and an amazing fact about Red Dwarf stars are that there are ten Red Dwarfs for every star that is shining like our sun. Red Dwarfs are ideal places to find Earth-sized planets.

In the past the attempt to detect other planets in and around Proxima Centauri have failed but now with the new technology of what is known as the Microlensing Effect astronomers believe they will be able now to detect smaller terrestrial planets when these two rare stellar alignment occur.

To get a better idea of what Microlensing is it "occurs when a foreground star passes close to our line of sight to a more distant background star. These images of the background star may be distorted, brightened and multiplied depending on the alignment between the foreground lens and the background source." (nasa.gov/hubble, 2013)

When astronomers and scientists are in full motion or should I say in full swing on studying this rare stellar event using the microlensing technology which normally lasts from a few hours to a few days in duration will give astronomers and scientists the precise measurement of the mass of any one of the isolated red dwarf stars. The importance of getting the precise determination of the mass of the red dwarf is critical to giving scientists the understanding of the stars temperature, diameter, intrinsic brightness and the longevity of each red dwarf they are studying.

Astronomers will measure the mass of each red dwarf studied by examining the images of the background stars which will tell them how far the stars are offset from their normal position in the sky to where they are currently positioned. The reasons the stars will be offset will be the result of Proxima Centauri`s gravitational field warping space.

The formula for this kind goes like this, the greater the offset space the greater the mass of Proxima Centauri. If there are any planets in and around any of the red dwarf stars the gravitational field will produce a second very light and small position shift.

Since Proxima Centauri is very close to Earth, the area of the sky warped or separated by its gravitational field will be larger than any of the more distant stars. This will make it easier for astronomers to look at gravitational shifts in apparent stellar positions which are caused by this effect; however, when viewing and interpreting these types of shifts are normally too small to be viewed or perceived by just any telescope. They will have to be viewed by the best and most sensitive telescopes like the Hubble Space telescope to be able to gather accurate data.

With the new technology of the Hubble Space telescope and the motivation by scientists and astronomers to find anything and everything about space and our solar system maybe one day we all will be able to take weekend trips to Mars and be able to shake hands with those little green men and even take an up close picture with our cell phone of that Leapin Lizard or alien lizard the Japanese blogger said was in the video and photo he saw that supposedly roams around on the surface of the red planet.

                                                                         Reference

NASA`S HUBBLE WILL USE RARE STELLAR ALIGNMENT TO HUNT FOR PLANETS

 (http://www.nasa.gov/hubble) Retrieved 2013.

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