Scientists hoping to observe new Earth-like planets orbiting the stars closest to our own solar system thanks to gravity lens effect
A RARE cosmic event could allow scientists to observe new Earth-like planets orbiting the stars closest to our own solar system.
Astronomers will be pointing their telescopes at our nearest neighbours in May 2028 when the «gravitational lensing» effect is expected to reveal the presence of other planets that could potentially be home to alien lifeforms.
It comes after researchers announced the discovery of Proxima B — dubbed ‘Second Earth’ — a rocky globe that may be covered in oceans just four light years away from us.
European astronomers searching for alien planets have collected years of very precise measurements of Alpha Centauri A and B, a fast-moving pair of stars that twist tightly around each other.
The observations have allowed researchers to predict their movements across the sky up to the year 2050.
The stellar pair appear in front of the Milky Way band formed by the millions of stars in our galaxy, meaning there is a strong chance they will appear directly in front of other more-distant celestial objects when viewed from Earth.
This is the holy grail for planet hunters as it gives rise to gravitational lensing, an effect caused when light from a distant object is bent round a nearer star by its gravitational field — as predicted in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.