Senator Ted Kennedy has a love child, The National Enquirer can reveal.

The bombshell world exclusive report is published in the print edition of The National Enquirer, which is hitting newsstands today.

Sources say the 73-year-old senator for Massachusetts took a paternity test that proved he had fathered a son by a lover half his age.

But he paid the woman and had the scandal covered up — the child has been kept a secret for a staggering 21 years.

Several months before his divorce was finalized from first wife Joan in December 1983, sources say Ted, then 51, started dating Caroline Bilodeau, an attractive brunette from Cape Cod.

The love child, named Christopher, was born in December 1984. Adopted by a man Caroline later married, he is now a handsome college student.

According to the sources, Ted was not happy when he learned Caroline was pregnant and asked her at the time to have an abortion, which she refused.

Sources say the woman was paid at least $15,000 “from someone in the Kennedy camp,” said a Bilodeau family source.

Kennedy family sources say the sensational revelation is sure to jolt Ted’s devoted wife Victoria and his three children from his marriage to Joan — Kara, 45, Teddy Jr., 44, and Patrick, 38.

The news will also send shockwaves through the nation’s capital , where hard-driving Kennedy has been one of the leading opponents of President Bush’s Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito, grilling him in nationally-televised hearings.

Both Caroline and Christopher declined to comment. And the Senator did not respond to calls from The National Enquirer.

Other exclusive details about Kennedy’s love child scandal and photos of Caroline and Christopher can be found in The National Enquirer‘s exciting new issue.