2016 seems like a good year for space expeditions. With finding new stars and exploring our milky way, the scientists at ESO (European Southern Observatory) found a new earth, slightly bigger than ours that sits about four light years away, orbiting Proxima Centauri– the star nearest to our solar system.
Proxima b, as the planet has been named, is far closer to Proxima Centauri than Earth is to our Sun, taking just 11 days to complete an orbit. But the red parent star is cooler than our Sun meaning Proxima b is in fact within our habitable zone.
However, Proxima b doesn’t come absolutely clean for humanity to harbour life there. Ultraviolet rays and X-rays are blasted at the planet by its star which seems like a big hurdle as of now. Scientists are planning to figure out a way to send a robotic probe to the planet in order to see if it fits our needs.
Using the current technology that we have, it can nearly take 76,000 years for us to get to our nearest star. Nevertheless, “light-sail” technology, which is currently under development, can take us there in about 25 years.
“It is the closest possible planet to us and may be the closest to support life outside the solar system.” said Dr Mikko Tuomi.
This is perhaps a very crucial discovery for the entire mankind. It can help us in finding the answer to the most important questions of all time—whether or not we’re alone here. Many people firmly believe that there are aliens out there and it’s about time that we figure that out. Thus, every effort in finding this planet or any other star for that matter is done to look for new evidence of life.
Proxima Centauri is part of a triple system of stars in the constellation of Centaurus. It is the faintest of the three, which also include a much brighter pair of stars known as Alpha Centauri A and B. From Earth, the system appears as a single bright star – the third brightest visible in the night sky.