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Our next exoplanet, Proxima B, could have a big and cool neighbor



  Potential exoplanet proxima c Artist image of the planet orbiting Centauri
The artist's impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the nearest star of the solar system. ESO / M. Kornmesser

Our next discovered exoplanet is Proxima b, orbiting the star Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light-years from Earth. Proxima b surrounds a red dwarf and is located in the habitable zone, which means that liquid water could be on its surface. It is about the same size as the Earth and is therefore a fascinating target for dreams of planetary colonization. It was previously assumed that Proxima b was the only world hosted by Proxima Centauri.

Now, new evidence suggests that Proxima b may have a neighbor, Proxima c. A team of scientists, led by Mario Damasso from the University of Turin (Italy) and Fabio Del Sordo from the University of Crete (Greece), observed at the Breakthrough Initiatives conference this week how Proxima Centauri was able to provide the Radar Speed ​​Planet Finder with high accuracy ( HARPS) instrument. HARPS is located in the La Silla Observatory in Chile and was used to study the effects of orbit from orbiting the Earth's orbit.

The scientists observed a "shake" from Proxima Centauri, suggesting that a second planet could be in orbit. This wobble had previously been observed, but was of marginal significance, but a larger dataset has been collected in recent years. The analysis of this larger data set brought the results into the area of ​​significance.

Damasso and Sordo, however, wanted to emphasize that this is only a preliminary finding. "It's just a candidate," Damasso said during the presentation, according to Scientific American. "This is very important to underline."

Proxima c, if present, is estimated to be a super-Earth with a mass about six times the mass of our planet. It would orbit its star every 1

900 days at 1.5 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, meaning that it is a cold and inhospitable place. This is because Proxima Centauri as a red dwarf is smaller and weaker than our sun. Therefore, its rays would hardly reach Proxima to heat it, which would make the surface temperature low.

So do not plan a colonization trip yet. But there could be another exoplanet nearby that we might visit someday.








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