It’s not just one, but a couple of planets that are likely circling the closest star to our sun, a tiny red dwarf known as Proxima Centauri which is proximately 4.24 light-years away.
In the event that the planet does exist there, it will be no less than six times bigger than Earth – making it what is known as a super-Earth – and it requires, 1,936 days to make a single revolution around its star. This means that the average temperature in the surface of Proxima is too low for liquid H20 to flow.
Is this planet even habitable? Well, not really, as it’s quite cold. according to Fabio Del Sordo of the University of Crete. In 2016, researchers from the Pale Red Dot project showed that the first known world traveling around Proxima Centauri – a planet no less than 1.3 times bigger than Earth that is probably warm enough for life as we know it to flourish on its surface.
Researchers were able to determine the planet, known as Proxima Centauri b, by examining its gravity tugs on Proxima Centauri, causing the star to shake. Lately, Damasso and Del Sordo opted to go back to the data utilized to identify Proxima b, signals generated by Proxima b and jey stellar activity and included 61 measurements conducted throughout an extra 549 days by the HARPS spectrograph, mounted on a telescope at Chile’s La Silla Observatory.
Overall, the two scientists studied data that roughly covers 17 years on the wiggling and wobbling movement of the star. Within it, they were able to spot a signal which might be one other planet orbiting around Proxima Centauri. In the event that it does exist – and that is a large “if” – Proxima c takes nearly less than 5 Earth-years to orbit its star, traveling at a distance that is 1.5 times further than Earth is from the Sun.
“This detection is very challenging,” Del Sordo says. “We asked ourselves many times if this is a real planet. But what is sure is that even if this planet is a castle in the air, we should keep working to put even stronger foundations under it.”
A report portraying the discovery has been forwarded to a peer-reviewed journal. Astronomers will continue to gather data on the star and are looking to use data from the Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency to make additional studies on the movement of Proxima Centauri, which might polish their understanding of its wobbles. Scientists likewise propose that the planet could be spotted directly through telescopes in the future.
On top of that, interpretations of the star conducted by the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, or ALMA, could back up the likelihood that numerous planets are orbiting on the star: From the images, Proxima Centauri is enclosed by dust lanes that are apparently brought about by orbiting bodies. Furthermore, ALMA identified an additional source in the Proxima system, located at roughly the distance where Proxima c might orbit.
“This is really an amazing, amazing result—I hope it withstands scientific scrutiny over the next few months and years,” says Rene Heller of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. Lauren Weiss from the University of Hawaii proposes that her groups could be spotting a signal generated by a mix of other planets present within the system and at the same time stellar noise.