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Stephen Hawking's Breakthrough Listen Adds a New Alien-Hunting Telescope

Nov 11, 2016 04:10 AM EST
'The Dish' Radio Telescope
Breakthrough Listen tapped another telescope to listen to alien civilizations.
(Photo : Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his partner billionaire Yuri Milner are working on a nano craft that can travel fast to the Earth's neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri. Right in time since the European Space Observatory also announced that a potentially habitable planet was also discovered there. But aside from that Hawking and his partners are hunting for alien life.

Breakthrough Listen just upgraded its fleet of alien-hunting equipment as another innovative telescope was added to the list. The telescope is capable of monitoring the space father beyond the Earth.

The Breakthrough Listen team just announced that the Parkes Radio Telescope located in New South Wales in Australia had already performed its first observation. The team's telescopes are distributed in many different areas; one on California and one in West Virginia.

What set's the new telescope apart is that it is focused on detecting and identifying signs of Earth-like alien or extraterrestrial civilizations. Interestingly, the first observation was made from Proxima Centauri, the star that the potentially habitable planet Proxima B orbits.

"The chances of any particular planet hosting intelligent life-forms are probably minuscule," Andrew Siemion, director of the UC Berkeley SETI research center said in an interview, "But once we know where there was a plant right next door, we had to ask the question, and it was a fitting first observation for Parkes. To find a civilization just 4.2 light years away would chance everything," Siemion added.

Earlier this year, the European Space Agency (ESO) announced that their researchers found evidence that a potentially Earth-like habitable planet is orbiting a star in Alpha Centauri called 'Proxima B.' Proxima B orbits the star Proxima Centauri. What's more surprising is that the exoplanet is located near Earth at only about 4 billion light-years away. The exoplanet is also located in the 'Goldilocks' zone, a region where there is only the right amount of sunlight to sustain life.

This discovery made Hawking and Milner's Breakthrough Starshot project, that aims to send a nano craft to Alpha Centauri, more important. After ESO's announcement, Hawking's team also tried to redirect the mission to conduct a flyby to exoplanets Proxima B.

Putting the pieces together, ESO, Breakthrough Listen and its new telescope in Australia all point to one direction when it comes to searching for alien life forms and that is Proxima in Alpha Centauri. But until a confirmation is received, astronomers, scientists and researchers, with their fleet of advanced equipment will have to work towards searching for signs and finding out the truth.


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