Searching for habitable planets in the “close neighbors” of the solar system has attracted the attention of the Chinese scientific community

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The Proxima Centauri star that humans fly to in the Chinese science fiction blockbuster “The Wandering Earth” is not an ideal place for life in the eyes of scientists. Chinese scientists have proposed a unique and original detection plan, the “Near Habitable Planet Survey Plan”, which is to conduct a census in the “nearest neighbors” of the solar system to search for habitable planets.

In this plan, a 1.2-meter high-quality, low-distortion, high-stability optical telescope will be sent into the Halo orbit at the second Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system. With the help of high-precision asymmetry methods, the distance Carry out a comprehensive survey of about 100 sun-like stars within 32 light-years of the solar system, detect the number and mass of planets in the system, and obtain three-dimensional orbit information.

“At present, we have carried out a series of pre-researches on finding habitable exoplanets near our solar system, and have made great progress. This plan embodies Chinese wisdom.” Researcher at Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Nearest Habitable Planet Survey Program”

project The person in charge Jim Jiangsu said. He said that with the support of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Space Science Pioneer Special Background Model Project, the research team has completed the scientific goal deepening demonstration and core key technology research, developed a 1:6 telescope scale prototype, and developed an image distortion restoration correction method With the high stability and high pointing precision satellite control method, the experimental verification of the relative position measurement technology of micro-pixel stars in a vacuum environment has been realized, which has laid a good technical foundation for the space exploration of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone.

Schematic diagram of the scientific goals of the “Nearly Habitable Planet Survey Program” (drawn in June 2022). Published by Xingu News Agency (Photo provided by Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences) Wu Jim, chairman of the Chinese Society for Space Science and former director of the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, recently said in an interview with a reporter from Xingu News Agency that the scientific community at home and abroad has reached a consensus that finding habitable exoplanets is an important scientific frontier issue.

According to reports, exploring the habitability of solar system celestial bodies and exoplanets, and carrying out the search for extraterrestrial life have become one of the five major scientific themes for the development of China’s space science in the future. Jim Jiangsu said that humans have discovered and confirmed more than 5,300 exoplanets, of which more than 60 are terrestrial planets in the habitable zone. Further, detailed research.

“Most host stars of Earth-like exoplanets discovered in the habitable zone are not Sun-like stars, but red dwarfs, such as Proxima Centauri. Their flares will produce strong radiation, which is not suitable for the survival of life.” Wu Scientists are more concerned about whether there are Earth-like habitable planets around nearby sun-like stars, Ji said. The “near neighbor”

Searching for habitable planets in the "close neighbors" of the solar system has attracted the attention of the Chinese scientific community


that scientists refer to is on the cosmic scale, within tens of light-years from the solar system. “If the so-called Earth 2.0 (a planet with a mass, orbit, and environment very similar to the Earth’s) can be found around a nearby sun-like star, it will be easier for scientists to study it. This will be a major discovery.

I believe that Earth and space The telescopes in the world will focus on it to observe it, try to see it clearly, and study whether it has an atmosphere, whether the composition of the atmosphere contains oxygen, nitrogen, methane and other gases related to life activities.

Even a telescope like FAST can be aimed at it to listen Whether there are radio signals of intelligent life may be able to answer the philosophical question of whether we are alone in the universe.” Wu Ji said. On April 13, the researchers were debugging the vacuum test device of the micro-pixel interstellar distance measurement technology.

However, this search is not easy. According to reports, 70% of the exoplanets discovered by humans so far have been discovered through the transit method. The principle is that when a revolving planet passes in front of a star, it will cause periodic weak changes in the brightness of the star.
The team led by Jim Jiangsu of the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences innovative proposed to use asymmetry to accurately measure the micro-arcsecond level position changes of the target star relative to 6 to 8 reference stars farther away, and calculate the gravitational force of the target star on the planet The tiny wobbles produced by the perturbation detect habitable-zone Earth-like planets of real mass around nearby stars.