Study reveals planet found around nearest star potentially habitable

2016_0825_proxima-centauri

Now it can be said that researchers have found a planet orbiting the closest star to the Solar System. It may be the closest possible home for life outside the Solar System, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

This planet is about 1.3 times that of the Earth and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface, according to the study.

The international team discovered the planet, called Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System by using the facilities operated by the European Southern Observatory and other telescopes.

“We hope these findings inspire future generations to keep looking beyond the stars,” said Lead author Dr Guillem Anglada-Escude from Queen Mary University of London.”The search for life on Proxima b comes next.”

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star that is four-light years from the Solar System. Proxima b lies well within the habitable zone around the star, according to the study.

Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and X-ray flares from the star, which would be far more intense than those the Earth experiences from the Sun, said the researchers.

“If further research concludes that the conditions of its atmosphere are suitable to support life, this is arguably one of the most important scientific discoveries we will ever make,”said another author Dr John Barnes from The Open University. (Xinhua)

Light Year

A light-year or light year is a unit of length used to express astronomical distances. It is approximately 9 petametres, or 9 trillion kilometres (or about 6 trillion miles). As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one Julian year or 365.25 days. (Source Wikipedia)

H/T: Image credit from ESO/YouTube.

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