Giant telescope in Chile will be modified to search for habitable planets in Alpha Centauri star system

A giant telescope in Chile will be modified to be able to search for planets suitable for sustaining human life in Alpha Centauri star system.

The Very Large Telescope or VLT as it is called, is located in Chile and belongs to the European Southern Observatory, ESO. The telescope will be modified in such way so it will allow more efficient searches of potentially habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth, reported Reuters on Tuesday.

ESO announced that it has signed an agreement with Breakthrough Starshot, a company that aims to launch thousands of small spacecrafts to travel through the star system and take photographs that will allow a better observation process.

Starshot, which was funded by billionaire Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking, will provide the money that will allow the infrared telescope to be adapted to better detect all the less visible planets, stated ESO in a press release on Monday.

The adaptation will have the effect of reducing the starlight that is covering the relatively dark planets, improving their chances of discovery, says ESO.

The interest in exploring the nearest neighbor of the Sun has rose after scientists announced during last year that they have found evidence regarding a planet the size of the Earth orbiting Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star system in Alpha Centauri, located about 4,24 light years from the Sun.

Larger telescopes to be built after 2020, such as Extremely Large Telescope of the ESO, currently under construction in Chile, would allow researchers to learn more about the number and the nature of exoplanets.

ESO is an intergovernmental astronomical organization supported by 16 countries in Europe and South America and hosted by Chile.