Summary: There are about 14,000 solar systems within 100 light-years and 250,000 solar systems within 250 light-years. And now there is a way to explore them.
Original author and publication date: Brian Wang – June 29, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: If we are able to send hundreds, perhaps thousands or even millions of telescopes to space, what else could we be sending to space?
From the article:
If we send telescopes out to 4 light days we can use the gravity of the sun to amplify the power of telescopes by 100 billion times. Although we can build larger telescopes with higher resolution than exists today near to Earth, the telescopes that are sent out to gravitational lensing regions would resolve much faster. In some cases, it would take millions of years or more to resolve an image while the gravitational lens telescope could resolve in weeks.
The resolution amplification out at the gravitational lens would be mammoth compared to large telescopes near to Earth. There is a need for both. Having 100 meter or multi-kilometer telescopes on the moon or at LaGrange points would be useful for lower resolution scanning of other solar systems. The resolution could still be hundreds of times beyond the capabilities of our best existing telescopes.
For the next decade or two, the challenge will be to get a single one-meter telescope out to the right spot. The right spot is a very thin line on the opposite side of the sun to the exoplanet or target imaging object. The best lensing areas are out at 650 times further than the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
The first missions will probably be laser pushed solar sails or solar sails that slingshot around the sun. These would try to reach the gravitational lens area in about ten to twenty years. They would need to get to twenty times the speed of the Voyager spacecraft. They would travel along the optimal line for looking at another solar system.