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News Release Archive:

News Release 73 of 958

June 3, 2013 10:15 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-22

Rare Stellar Alignment Offers Opportunity to Hunt for Planets

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Image: Proxima Centauri Microlensing Prediction

Proxima Centauri Microlensing Prediction

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

This diagram shows the upcoming conjunction between the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri, and a distant background star. Proxima's gravitational field warps the space around it. This gravitational lensing effect distorts space like a funhouse mirror and bends the path of light from the background star. The result is that the apparent position of the star will shift slightly during Proxima Centauri's passage, as seen in the upper right diagram. If an unseen planet is orbiting Proxima Centauri the star's apparent position will be further offset, as seen at lower left.

Image Type: Illustration

Credit: A. Feild (STScI)

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