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Giant telescope in Chile is getting an upgrade to search for alien worlds around Alpha Centauri

Mirror logo Mirror 12/01/2017 Libby Plummer

Credits: ESO/B. Tafreshi ( Sky Survey 2 © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: ESO/B. Tafreshi ( Sky Survey 2 A massive telescope in Chile is set to get an upgrade order to search for worlds. 

The Very Large Telescope will hunt for potentially habitable planet in the nearby star system .

The upgrade is part of a new deal signed by the (ESO) and an alien-hunting initiative backed by physicist .

Speaking at the Oxford Union last year, Hawking said: "I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

The Breakthrough Starshot project, which is also backed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, aims to send a swarm of probes to any planets that are found as part of the initiative.

Habitable planets are tricky to spot because the brightness of the system's host star tends to overwhelm the relatively dim planet.

An upgrade to the telescope's mid-infrared instrument should enable the researchers to reduce the bright stellar light in order to spot any planets.

The last year has increased interest in exploring the surrounding area further.

The exoplanet orbits Proxima Centauri, the third and faintest star of the Alpha Centauri system.

ESO is a promient intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe is supported by 16 countries.

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