More details about Proxima Centauri’s Earthlike exoplanet


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Link here. Lots of background into the discovery itself, but I think these paragraphs really sum things up:

“The search for life starts now,” says Guillem Anglada-Escudé, an astronomer at Queen Mary University of London and leader of the team that made the discovery.

Humanity’s first chance to explore this nearby world may come from the recently announced Breakthrough Starshot initiative, which plans to build fleets of tiny laser-propelled interstellar probes in the coming decades. Travelling at 20% of the speed of light, they would take about 20 years to cover the 1.3 parsecs from Earth to Proxima Centauri.

Proxima’s planet is at least 1.3 times the mass of Earth. The planet orbits its red-dwarf star — much smaller and dimmer than the Sun — every 11.2 days. “If you tried to pick the type of planet you’d most want around the type of star you’d most want, it would be this,” says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University in New York City. “It’s thrilling.”

The human race now has a real interstellar target to aim for. Don’t be surprised if we get there sooner than anyone predicts.

8 comments

  • fredk

    It is certainly exciting to know that there is a planet orbiting the nearest star.

    However, I find the speculation about the surface and atmospheric composition, rotation rate and other details to be quite ridiculous. It reminds me of the scientific speculation about Mars and Venus before planetary probes arrived to provide good data on the actual conditions there.

    So please keep in mind we know nothing about this planet except for its approximate mass, and its orbital period.

    This does look like at least a candidate for direct spectroscopic observation

  • wayne

    “ESOcast 87: Planet found around closest Star”
    https://youtu.be/lysJduOqads
    (6:00 total, published 8-24-16)

  • BSJ

    “Don’t be surprised if we get there sooner than anyone predicts.”

    Why, because someone will invent a unicorn fart powered super thruster?

    Or, will these vaporware microsats carry 100m wide dishes along with them, to transmit cellphone videos back to Earth?

    Come on! This is getting silly.

  • Orion314

    We will never know, as it will be long after we are dust, if ever, but I hope we make it….

  • Orion314

    UNLESS ,of course, what Ben Rich from Lockheed said is true…”we already have the technology to go to the stars”

  • Steve Earle

    “….Proxima’s planet is at least 1.3 times the mass of Earth. The planet orbits its red-dwarf star — much smaller and dimmer than the Sun — every 11.2 days. “If you tried to pick the type of planet you’d most want around the type of star you’d most want, it would be this,” says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University in New York City. “It’s thrilling.”….”

    Huh? Why would this be the most sought after planet and star combination? He lost me on that one and I didn’t see any further explanation in the rest of the article.

    It seems to me that while this discovery is intriguing, actually visiting or living on a planet orbiting that close to its star would be “exciting” to say the least, especially when the solar flare season heats up…… LOL!

  • pzatchok

    Being that close to its sun.
    Its tidally locked. No more spin. This no spinning molten core to make a magnetosphere, thus no atmosphere.
    No atmosphere, no water Or at least no surface water.
    Unless it has an over abundance of nuclear fuel right on the surface its gravity is to high to even let it be a viable mining site for other materials. We can find those on close to zero-G bodies throughout a solar system.

    This is definitely not a class M planet. To borrow a classification.

  • Localfluff

    pzatchok,
    Like Mercury? With an eccentric enough orbit a planet is spin/orbit synchronized to its star and does rotate. Mercury is so 2:3. With 11 days orbital period, the day/night shifts would be very short compared to Venus, which has quite an atmosphere.

    I do think it is a bit funny that ALL moons are tidally locked to their planets, but that Mercury is not. A few moons do have chaotic rotation, like Hyperion at Saturn and all the four small moons of Pluto. So chaotic rotation, i.e. random day/night lengths, is a way for even a planet in circular orbit to not be tidally locked 1:1 to its star. One cannot dismiss the habitability of planets because they are close to their stars.

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