Officially, the researchers have confirmed the existence of a second Earth, which is located in the Proxima Centauri System. The planet is believed to have oceans just like Earth and may hay host alien life too.
In the past, there were thousands of exoplanets discovered in the universe, but none of them looked like Proxima B.
Proxima B, as it has been called, has very promising characteristics. It is probably rocky, slightly more massive than the planet Earth and it is located in the region around its star which would permit liquid water on its surface to exist.
Proxima B is also the closest exoplanet which we have ever discovered, and according to the researchers, a mission to the planet in order to make some research for signs of life could be something achievable within our lifetime.
The distance between our planet and Proxima B may seem insurmountable, but it is formidably shorter when it is compared to some other candidates to host life. This actually means that Proxima B could also become the first objective for future interstellar travel.
The new planet is a red dwarf which is located in the constellation Centaurus. The star itself is actually too weak to be observed with the naked eye, but in the last few months, scientists have not taken their eyes off of it.
At the time of the first half of 2018, Proxima Centauri has been followed regularly with the HARPS spectrograph which is installed on the 3.6-meter telescope of the European Southern Observatory or ESO in La Silla, Chile, and it is monitored simultaneously with some other instruments from all over the world.
The lead author of the paper, named Dr. Guillem Anglada-Escudé, said:
Several exoplanets were found, and a lot more are going to be found, but searching for the closest potential Earth-analogue and succeeding was the experience of a lifetime for every one of us.
A lot of stories and efforts of people have converged on this discovery. The result is also a tribute to all of them. This search for life on Proxima B is coming next.
Already, there are two papers that describe and go through the potential habitability of this new planet.
Some future observation, for instance, the use of the 39-m ESO E-ELT telescope under construction in Chile, are going to permit some further investigation of Proxima B, as well as of the hypothetical presence of a thick atmosphere and a liquid water reservoir. If this turns out to be the case, it is going to be very exciting that the nearest star to the Sun also hosts the nearest habitable, and may be inhabited, planet.