Astronomers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arizona State University are developing the most sensitive millimeter-wavelength polarimetric camera on Earth, called TolTEC. The camera will use 7,000 detectors across three different bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. When it's completed, it'll be coupled with the 164-foot diameter Large Millimeter Telescope, the world's largest single-dish steerable millimetre-wavelength telescope, which is located in Puebla, Mexico.
In August, astronomers revealed that the nearest star system to the sun, Alpha Centauri, possesses a world roughly 1.3 times Earth's mass. Alpha Centauri consists of three stars — Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and a small red dwarf named Proxima Centauri — and this newfound planet appears to call Proxima Centauri home.
We know that there are multitudes of exoplanets scattered throughout the universe, but to date the only planets that we have been able to take a picture of are in our own cozy solar system. That might be about to change with a new initiative launched today that aims to send a telescope into low Earth orbit to take a picture of the binary Alpha Centauri system, which houses the two closest sun-like stars to our solar system
It's still on Earth for the next two years, but the James Webb Space Telescope turned around to face the world this week, as it moved into position for preliminary optics testing. Once it's launched, JWST will study galaxy, star and planet formation in the universe using infrared wavelengths. For now, you can spy on the cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where JWST is hanging out for the next few months, via the Webb Cam, here.