Researchers at a European Observatory have recently spread the news of a seemingly new planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. They estimate the new planet is the same size as the Earth, and it also might provide proper conditions for habitation.
The new planet was spotted orbiting Proxima Centauri, which is the nearest star to Earth (except for the Sun) and belongs to a threefold star system, called Alpha Centauri. ESO astronomers are the ones who made the breakthrough.
Specialists started to suspect something was going on around Proxima Centauri three years ago, back in 2013, but now they received a confirmation from ESO. There really is a planet orbiting the red dwarf, and it was called Proxima Centauri b.
Researchers determined that the new planet orbits its star in almost eleven-day time, compared to the 365-day journey of our Earth around the Sun. Also, Proxima Centauri is a cold celestial body, so it doesn’t provide warmth to the planet. Proxima Centauri b doesn’t rotate around its’ own axis; it only revolves around its star.
As far as other features of the planet are concerned, scientists believe gravity there is 10% more than what we are used to on Earth, meaning that it would add fifteen more pounds to every person. In order for the newly found planet to be habitable, it should have specific conditions, such as having an atmosphere that would allow water in its liquid form. The temperature of the celestial body also plays an important role in preserving water in its liquid shape. And in order for it to sustain life, the planet should have oxygen in its atmosphere.
As long as the conditions above are not met, a planet cannot be habitable, and, as a result, recently discovered Proxima Centaury b doesn’t resemble Earth from this point of view.
Other planets resembling Earth have been discovered throughout time, but none of them allows the evolution of living organisms as Earth does.
The team of astronomers was led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé (Queen Mary University of London).
Paul Hertz congratulates the astronomers who made the discovery on behalf of NASA:
“NASA congratulates ESO on the discovery of this intriguing planet that has captured the hopes and the imagination of the world.” (Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington)
The findings of the ESO astronomers were published in Nature (journal) on August 25.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia