Proxima Centauri b (also called Proxima b) is an Earth-like planet orbiting the nearest star to the sun known as Proxima Centauri. The discovery of the planet was reported by a team of astronomers in August 2016.
They discovered Proxima b using a high-precision planet-finding spectrograph called the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS).
What makes Proxima b stand out from all other planets found near our solar system is that it is the closest of them all.
Here are some facts you should know about earth’s new neighbor:
– Proxima b is 4.22 light-years away from the solar system. It orbits at 4.7 million miles from its star Proxima Centauri.
– By virtue of fate or coincidence, Proxima b is a potentially inhabitable planet. A study found that the planet is probably home to surface oceans and a thin atmosphere.
– No budget was created for the discovery project of Proxima b which makes it one of the most productive projects to ever be carried out in astrophysics.
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– A year in Proxima b is just 11.2 earth days.
– Due to the planet’s proximity to its star, it receives so much energy that it has the potential to be an inhabitable zone. This means it could harbour liquid water or even life.
– Although Proxima b is 4.2 light-years away from our solar system, it is still considerably far from us. However, a recent project called Breakthrough Starshot plans to reach its location using nanocrafts. This technology is expected to travel at 20 percent the speed of light and reach Proxima b in just 20 years.
– The planet’s star, Proxima Centauri, is more or less the same age as the sun. That is, about 4.8 billion years old. Yet, it has been estimated that it will be existing even when the sun has died.