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Found: Our Nearest Exoplanet Neighbor

24 Aug 2016, 17:06 UTC
Found:  Our Nearest Exoplanet Neighbor
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An artist impression of the surface of the candidate planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)
No exoplanet can possibly be closer to us than the one just detected around our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri.
The long-sought and long-imagined planet is larger than Earth, but small enough to be rocky as opposed to a gas or ice giant. Making things even more exciting, the planet was detected inside the habitable zone of Proxima, suggesting that the planet could potentially have temperatures that allow for pooling liquid water.
Innumerable questions remain to be answered before we know if it actually is habitable (as opposed to residing in a habitable zone), and far more before we know if it might actually be inhabited.
But the very exciting news is that an exoplanet has almost definitively been found only 4 light-years from our solar system. There’s every ...

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