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Hints of Earth-Size Planets around Alpha Centauri B

27 Mar 2015, 09:00 UTC
Hints of Earth-Size Planets around Alpha Centauri B
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Alpha Centauri Bb is a possible Earth-size exoplanet in a 3.2 day orbit around Alpha Centauri B, a K-type star located 4.37 light-years away. The discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb was announced by Dumusque et al. (2012) from measurements made using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The HARPS instrument measures the tiny gravitational wobbles an orbiting planet exerts on its host star. Since then, more attempts have been made to try and confirm the existence of Alpha Centauri Bb.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a hot Earth-size planet. Image credit: Invader Xan.Because Alpha Centauri Bb orbits so close to its host star, the probability that it transits in front of its host star as observed from Earth is estimated to be between ~10 to 30 percent. Using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), an attempt was made by Demory et al. (2015) to detect the transit of Alpha Centauri Bb in front of its host star Alpha Centauri B. The search involved observing Alpha Centauri B twice in 2013 and 2014, for a total of 40 hours. With a confidence level of 96.6 percent, the search ruled out any transits of ...

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