Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting a star in Alpha Centauri, just 4.3 light-years from Earth. With surface temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees fahrenheit, this particular planet would be inhospitable, but the fact that it exists at all raises hopes of finding another, more human-friendly…
If you take humanity's current energy and technological capacity and project a steady increase into the future, the chances of us reaching the stars any time soon look bleak. Even our nearest stellar neighbor is at least 300 years away.
Could we travel to the nearest stars in a human lifetime? Yes. If we could harness the full power of the sun, it would be far less unpleasant than you think. Welcome to this week's "Ask A Physicist" column.