Giant telescope could spot individual continents on exoplanets!

A pair of physicists demonstrate in a paper that this would give us enough light to see a clear view of exoplanets orbiting the nearby star Proxima Centauri

There are loads of potentially-habitable exoplanets out there in the galaxy, but because they’re so far away, they’re incredibly difficult to study.

Being able to take a close look at these worlds would help, but we don’t have any telescopes powerful enough. Now, though, Universe Today points to a hypothetical new telescope design that would use the Sun as a gigantic gravitational lens ­— so powerful that it could spot individual land masses on the surfaces of planets in other star systems.

Gravitational lensing is essentially using a powerful gravitational field like a magnifying lens. As light travels past a large object — in this case the Sun — it gets warped as if it were passing through rounded glass. A pair of physicists, one from NASA, demonstrate in a paper being considered for publication by the journal Physics Review D that this would give us enough light to see a clear view of exoplanets orbiting the nearby star Proxima Centauri.

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