AUG 31, 2016 09:19 AM PDT

Earth-Like Exoplanet Found Orbiting Our Closest Stellar Neighbor

While some scientists are peering out into the great beyond looking for a supposed Planet Nine, others have recently found out that our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, actually hosts a little rocky Earth-like planet that may have the conditions suitable for life to exist.
 
Proxima b, as it has been named, is reportedly the closest planet ever discovered outside of our very own Solar System and it’s located about 4.25 light years away.
 
The findings are published in the journal Nature.
 

An artist's impression of the surface of Proxima b.

 Image Credit: M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory

Being that it’s the closest exoplanet ever discovered, it’s raising a lot of eyebrows from those with the interest of getting a closer look in the search for life. After all, 4.25 light years away sounds a lot better than 4.25 million or billion light years away, so it’s just hardly out of our reach.
 
In fact, Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Starshot research project that was announced earlier this year could theoretically get us there within two decades, which is pretty good when you’re talking about light years in distance.

Modern space transportation would also take ages to get there. After all, it took New Horizons a decade to get to the edge of our own Solar System and Proxima b is roughly 1,300 times more distant from Earth than Pluto is.
 
Scientists say that it’s a great place to search for extraterrestrial life, as the conditions are similar to Earth (albeit not exactly the same). To be considered “Earth-like,” it simply needs to be rocky, not gassy, and have the potential to support liquid water. It’s worth noting that this planet is within its star’s habitable zone, which means the presence of water is possible.
 
But don’t get your pants in a knot; we still don’t know enough about the exoplanet to jump to conclusions. We don’t even know if it has a habitable atmosphere or if its host star is capable of supporting life. The only thing we really know right now is: the planet is there.
 
With current technology, it’s hard to get a closer look at this planet. With modern optics, the nearby star is no more than just a blur, and its small planet is even more insignificant.
 
While it looks like an interesting place to study, for now all we can do is wonder. Perhaps scientists will even discover more planets orbiting Proxima Centauri or its neighboring Alpha Centauri while they’re at it.
 


Source: CNN, The Washington Post

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 31, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 31, 2018
Underground Lake of Briny Water Detected on Mars
There’s seemingly endless evidence that water once flowed on the Martian surface, and in addition to that, many theories exist concerning the presenc...
AUG 08, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 08, 2018
Astronomers Say This is the Most Distant Radio Galaxy Ever Found
Our universe is a mysterious place, and that’s why astronomers are always peering into the depths of outer space in search of clues. Sometimes they f...
SEP 24, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 24, 2018
Earth's History May Hold Clues About Where to Look for Otherworldly Vegetation
Astronomers restlessly search for distant exoplanets, not only because they can teach us more about the planet we live on, but also because they may contai...
OCT 14, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2018
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Enters Safe Mode for Unknown Reasons
A little more than a week ago, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope started exhibiting wonky gyroscope data consistent with a mechanical failure. Consequent...
OCT 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2018
Hayabusa2 Scientists Prepare to Collect Asteroid Samples and Return Them to Earth
Near the end of September, JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission deployed two bouncing rovers on the surface of asteroid 162173 Ryugu to capture photographs and s...
NOV 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 07, 2018
Near-Twin of New Horizons' Ralph Instrument to Study Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids
If you followed along when NASA’s New Horizons probe flew past Pluto in July 2015, then you probably remember all the stunning photographs taken of t...
Loading Comments...