BREAKING: Astronomers Discover Life-Friendly Alien Planet And It Is Close Enough to Visit
A group of scientists has found evidence of yet another exoplanet that orbits Proxima Centauri, our closest neighboring star, which is about four light-years away. The third planet found in the system is called Proxima d. A press release says that it is also pretty small and only weighs a fifth as much as Earth. This makes it one of the lightest exoplanets ever found.
In a statement, Joo Faria, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofsica e Ciências do Espaço in Portugal and the lead author of the study published today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, said, “The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbor seems to be full of interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration.”
The small planet goes around its star at a distance of about 2.48 million miles, which is less than a tenth of the distance between Mercury and the Sun. It takes less than five days for the small planet to go around its star once. Even more interesting, its orbit puts it in the habitable zone of the Proxima Centauri system, which means that liquid water could be on its surface.
In other words, Proxima d might be able to support life like ours. The discovery was made in the desert of Chile by Faria and his colleagues using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument attached to the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory.
Faria said, “After getting new observations, we were able to confirm this signal as a candidate for a new planet. I was excited by the challenge of finding such a small signal and, by doing so, finding an exoplanet so close to Earth.
The researchers found evidence that the small planet was there by using the radial velocity method. This method involves looking for wobbles in the movement of a star that are caused by a planet’s gravity. The ESO’s sensor was accurate enough to notice that Proxima Centauri moved only 15 inches per second.
Experts are now happy to “unveil a population of light planets, like ours, that are thought to be the most common in our galaxy and that might have life as we know it,” as Pedro Figueira, an ESPRESSO instrument scientist at ESO, said in a statement.
Using laser propulsion, people can get to the nearest star in a lifetime. There is money for this project, and researchers are working hard to make it happen. Here, you can find out more about how people plan to get to Alpha Centauri in less than 20 years.