Centaurus rising above La Silla observatory


… so you hope to find a pale red dot?

Yes! We think there might be a small planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor -an M-dwarf star called Proxima Centauri-, but it might also be magnetic activity. We will observe Proxima for two months with the planet hunting machine HARPS and two networks of smaller telescopes. Such monitoring should leave little doubt about the nature of the Doppler signal but… wait a second!

Doppler signal ??@#!… what is that? A magnetic M-dwarf star, is it a rock band? For two months? that seems long and boring! Can’t you find planets any other way? Shouldn’t we do it from space? How long before we can go to these planets?…

To answer this and many other questions, palereddot.org will feature articles from prominent scientists worldwide discussing extrasolar planets, the search for life beyond Earth, instruments and plans, and what we think about life, the universe and everything else… 😉

As with all the good things in life, Pale Red Dot will be intense but short. After all the data is collected (end of March), the hard core analysis will begin and the website will necessarily hibernate for a bit. After that,  results will be sent to a peer review journal and only then an (in)glorious announcement will be made. Who knows what will happen! This process might take several months, but we will do our best to keep you informed as well.

Do you want to know if such a planet exists? So do we! So stay tuned…

…so what kind of articles will you publish?

  • Expert insights and Expert opinions are articles from exoplanet pioneers, leaders of space missions and giant telescope instruments, visionaries and all sorts of rising stars in the field of exoplanet and stellar physics research. Expert opinions will always be released on Sundays (excellent to read with pancakes), while Expert insights will come during week days (really well suited for your daily commute).
  • Observatory life articles will feature how the different observatories work and how modern astronomical observations are obtained. Real life pictures and videos of the action behind-the-scenes included! Observatory life articles will be released every Saturday.
  • Project updates will be released every Friday, and will contain the highlights of the week, including the usual complaints of bad weather. We will not get any data if it gets cloudy, so astronomers are genuinely interested in talking about the weather.

So, are you ready to join our live exoplanet hunt?

If you have questions for us, we’d be happy to answer them on Twitter, @Pale_Red_Dot and #PaleRedDot.

Full resolution video and description available at http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann16003/

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