(ORDO NEWS) — China has announced its plans to search for potentially habitable planets around stars close to Earth. The ultimate goal of these plans may be the expansion of the “living space” of mankind to the entire Milky Way.
Chinese scientists also decided to join the search for exoplanets, among which there may be habitable
The project, called the Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey (CHES), proposes to launch a space telescope with a 1.2-meter aperture.
It is planned to place the telescope at the Lagrange point L2 at a distance of 1.5 million km from the Earth. At this point, the attraction of the Earth and the Sun is approximately equal to the centrifugal force acting on the satellite.
Thus, the satellite can rotate around the L2 point in a halo orbit, practically at rest relative to the rotating coordinate system associated with the Sun and the Earth.
Once at Lagrange Point L2, where NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope currently operates, CHES will spend five years searching for habitable worlds among planets orbiting sun-like stars within 32 light-years of Earth.
How China wants to populate the Milky Way
In the data obtained from the telescope, astronomers hope to detect Earth-sized exoplanets that move around their stars in habitable zones in near-circular orbits. This could be a clue that potential “Earths 2.0” will contain water and possibly even life.
Most of the exoplanets discovered to date have been discovered by the transit method, but it is very slow and requires the planet to make several passes across the disk of the star before it can be reliably said about its discovery.
The Chinese-announced telescope could detect exoplanets faster using a different method called astrometry. With this method, scientists will look for stellar wobbles caused by the gravitational influence of exoplanets.
If a star wobbles a lot compared to the six to eight guide stars behind it, CHES will mark it for further study. Then, by studying the star’s oscillations, researchers can determine the mass of exoplanets orbiting it and describe their orbits.
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