Shooting for the Stars (and damage of doing so)

Shooting for the Stars (and damage of doing so)

We now know that our nearest stellar neighbor may harbor an Earth-like exoplanet. The Breakthrough Starshot initiative plans to get spacecraft there in only 20 years. However, the “empty” space between us and our nearest star is not completely empty, and the material in the path of these spacecraft may have catastrophic consequences for the mission.

How many planets are there between the stars?

How many planets are there between the stars?

The bending of light by gravity produces many phenomena, which can be exploited to make otherwise impossible observations. Chief among these is microlensing, where the light from a distant star or galaxy can be magnified by another object in between it and the observer. Initially used to image distant galaxy clusters, it can also reveal the presence of otherwise undetectable planets.es