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Earthlike exoplanet in habitable zone detected orbiting nearest star

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers think they have detected an Earthlike exoplanet, in habitable zone, orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system.

Astronomer João Faria and his collaborators detected Proxima Centauri d by measuring tiny shifts in the spectrum of the star’s light as the planet’s gravity pulled it during orbit. The team used a state-of-the art spectrograph called ESPRESSO at the Very Large Telescope, a system of four 8.2-metre telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Cerro Paranal, Chile. The results were published on 10 February in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

This ‘wobble’ technique looks for changes in the star’s motion along the line of sight from Earth, and ESPRESSO can detect variations of just 10 centimeters per second. The total effect of the planet’s orbit, which lasts only five days, is about 40 cm/s, says Faria. “I knew that ESPRESSO could do this, but it was still surprised to see it showing up,” says Faria, who is at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Porto, Portugal.

Though the scientists are very confident about their results, the detection is at present only a candidate planet, as its existence has not been confirmed by an second independent method. Also, the method of detection cannot pin down the exoplanet’s mass very precisely, though it suggests the exoplanet has rocky planet mass, not too different than Earth’s.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

2 comments

  • Gary

    Good! The Robinson’s, Dr. Smith and the Robot may now have a destination!

  • Jeff Wright

    Gotta watch those flares though.
    I wish it was the Trappist system next door-with those worlds as Jovian moons of a gas giant 1 AU out from a yellow star! What a gift!

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