Key Takeaways:

  1. Scientists have discovered a new Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System.
  2. The planet, named Proxima d, is about a quarter of the mass of Earth and one of the lightest exoplanets ever discovered.
  3. Proxima d orbits its star in just five days and lies within the star’s habitable zone, making it a potential candidate for liquid water and life.
  4. Proxima Centauri, a low-mass red dwarf star, is part of the Alpha Centauri star system located 4.2 light-years away.
  5. The discovery opens up possibilities for future missions to explore this nearby star system and its planets.

A team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has made a groundbreaking discovery—a new planet in the Proxima Centauri system. This star system, which is the closest known to our Solar System, has now revealed evidence of a third planet, Proxima d. The researchers detected a weak signal indicating an object orbiting the star every five days. Additional observations confirmed that it is indeed a planet and not caused by changes in the star itself.

Proxima d is approximately a quarter of the mass of Earth and is considered one of the lightest exoplanets ever discovered. What makes this finding even more exciting is its proximity to the star’s habitable zone. Although it orbits very close to Proxima Centauri—about four million kilometers away—it lies in a region where the conditions may allow for the presence of liquid water on the planet’s surface, an essential ingredient for life as we know it.

Proxima Centauri, a low-mass red dwarf star, is approximately one-eighth the mass of the Sun and considerably dimmer. It is part of the Alpha Centauri star system, which consists of two stars in a binary orbit and another star. Despite being the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri is too faint to be visible without powerful telescopes.

This discovery opens up intriguing possibilities for future missions to explore the Proxima Centauri system and its planets. The diverse worlds surrounding our closest stellar neighbor make it an attractive target for further study and potential exploration. Scientists also hope to identify more lightweight planets using the same instruments that led to the discovery of Proxima d, shedding light on the abundance of Earth-like planets in our galaxy and their potential for hosting life.

In conclusion, the detection of Proxima d, an Earth-like planet in the orbit of Proxima Centauri, brings us closer to understanding the cosmic neighborhood beyond our Solar System. The tantalizing prospect of a potentially habitable world and the uniqueness of each planet in the system inspire curiosity and fuel the desire to plan future missions to explore these nearby celestial bodies.

Read full article on Inverse

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