Scientists announce discovery of Earth-like planet near Sun′s neighbor | News | DW | 26.08.2016
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Scientists announce discovery of Earth-like planet near Sun's neighbor

The new planet, "Proxima b," has been found orbiting the star nearest our Sun. Scientists suspect it could be habitable.

The scientists announced their findings on Wednesday in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed journal "Nature."

According to the article, Proxima b is only four light-years away from Earth. It orbits the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to the Sun.

A group of scientists led by British researchers discovered the planet with the help of the European Southern Observatory telescope in Chile. They were able to locate Proxima b by recording the shifts in the light from the star.

Alpha Centauri AB und Proxima Centauri und Proxima b

Proxima b seen orbiting Proxima Centauri

Another Earth?

Because Proxima b is weaker than the sun, it could be within the "habitable zone" - the zone that is neither too hot nor too cold for humans - researchers said.

However, the scientists also said that Proxima b's habitability depends on its atmosphere. "You can come up with formation scenarios that end up with an Earth-like atmosphere, a Venus-like atmosphere, or no atmosphere at all," said one of the article's authors, Ansgar Reiners, according to AFP news agency.

Of the more than 3,500 "exoplanets" - a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun - Proxima b is also the only one within reach of a future space mission.

blc/ (AFP, dpa)

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