Astronomers confirm the existence of Earth Size Planet at Proxima Centauri

The researchers found that the Earth-like planet Proxima b is 1.17 times the mass of the Earth which is smaller than the older estimate of 1.3 times. The planet orbits its star in just 11.2 days.

Created On: Jun 1, 2020 13:57 IST
Earth like planet
Earth like planet

An international team of researchers has confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet named Proxima b. With the use of state-of-the-art astronomical instruments, it has been informed that Earth-like planet has been orbiting the closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri.

Alejandro Suarez Mascareno, the lead author of the paper about the research accepted for the publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics mentioned that confirming the existence of Proxima b was an essential task and it’s also one of the most interesting planets that has been known in the solar neighborhood.

In 2016, Proxima b was first discovered using HARPS (Hugh Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher), which is a planet-hunting spectrograph that has been mounted to one of the telescopes at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Confirming the existence of Earth-like Planet:

The researchers found that the Earth-like planet Proxima b is 1.17 times the mass of the Earth which is smaller than the older estimate of 1.3 times. The planet orbits its star in just 11.2 days.

Nobel Prize winner 2019, Michel Mayor stated that nailing down the mass of a distant planet with such precision has been completely unheard of. He laid down the groundwork for the technology that made the discovery possible.

The researchers were able to hone in on the planet With ESPRESSO, which is a new generation spectrograph also at the observatory in Chile, which boasts three times the precision as HARPS.

Francesco Pepe, an astronomy professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and leader of ESPRESSO informed that the researchers were very happy with the performance of HARPS that has been responsible for discovering around hundreds of exoplanets over the last 17 years. He further added that we have been pleased that ESPRESSO can produce better measurements and it has been gratifying and just reward for the teamwork that has been lasted 10 years.

Is there an Atmosphere that protects the new planet:

Even besides the fact that Proxima b orbits its star at such a close distance, it receives the same amount of energy from its star that Earth does from Sun. This has made astronomers excited about the possibility of finding the potential alien life.

What makes astronomers worry is that Proxima Centauri tends to bombard the planets in its vicinity with a ferocious amount of X rays. Proxima b receives about 400 times the amount that the Earth receives from Sun.

As per the co-author of the study, Christophe Lovis, a researcher who worked on ESPRESSO, stated that it leads to a question of whether there is an atmosphere that will protect the planet from these deadly rays. Lovis further adds that there is a hope that the next generation of spectrographs which will be ESPRESSO’s successor, ‘RISTRETTO’ which has been already in works will be able to find us some answers.

To get a closer look at Proxima b, it will take several thousand years to get there by using today’s propulsion technology as Proxima Centauri is only 4.2 light-years from the Sun.

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