Scientists at the European Southern Obsevatory
(ESO) just announced that they have discovered an Earth-like exoplanet near Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun.
May be considered as the biggest discoveries, this could very well mean that a second home is just 4 light years away. Details of the newest exoplanet discovery have been published in Nature Magazine
German magazine, Der Spiegel, first reported news
about the Earth-like planet last August 12. With La Silla Observatory cited as the source, the magazine mentioned that the rumored planet “is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri
that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface—an important requirement for the emergence of life.”
The exoplanet ‘s orbit is about 4.3 million miles away from red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri. Nicknamed as Proxima b, it the planet is still within the “habitable zone
”, meaning temperatures are good for water to form in a liquid state on its surface.
However, there has still not enough evidence that Proxima b has an atmosphere. And since Proxima Centauri is an active star, the planet may suffer x-ray fluxes about 400 times greater than what we have in earth which would cause the atmosphere to be blown away.
However, University of Gottingen’s Ansgar Reiners said that it actually depends on when and how the planet was formed.
“There are many models and simulations that produce very different outcomes, including possible atmosphere and water. We have no clue, but the existence of [an atmosphere] is certainly possible.” That would bode very well for the possibility of the planet harboring life. And the relative closeness to our solar system makes robotic exploration feasible within a generation.”
As to whether we should now be celebrating that a planet rumored to be habitable just like ours…
Senior Researcher at Queen Mary University London, Dr Guillem Anglada-Escude said
, “Many exoplanets have been found and many more will be found, but searching for the closest potential Earth-analogue and succeeding has been the experience of a lifetime for all of us.”