Scientists to unveil new Earth-like planet: report

August 12, 2016

Scientists are preparing to unveil a new planet in our galactic neighbourhood which is "believed to be Earth-like" and orbits its star at a distance that could favour life, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday.

The exoplanet orbits a well-investigated star called Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri star system, the magazine said, quoting anonymous sources.

"The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have on its surface—an important requirement for the emergence of life," said the magazine.

"Never before have scientists discovered a second Earth that is so close by," it said, adding that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will announce the finding at the end of August.

The report gave no further details.

Contacted by AFP, ESO spokesman Richard Hook said he is aware of the report, but refused to confirm or deny it. "We are not making any comment," he said.

NASA has announced the discovery of new planets in the past, but most of those worlds were either too hot or too cold to host water in liquid form, or were made of gas, like our Jupiter and Neptune, rather than of rock, like Earth or Mars.

Last year, the US space agency unveiled an exoplanet that it described as Earth's "closest-twin".

Named Kepler 452b, the planet is about 60 percent larger than Earth and could have active volcanoes, oceans, sunshine like ours, twice as much gravity and a year that lasts 385 days.

But at a distance of 1,400 light-years away, humankind has little hope of reaching this Earth-twin any time soon.

In comparison, the exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, if confirmed, is just 4.24 light-years away.

This is a mere stepping stone in relation to the scale of the Universe but still too far away for humans to reach in present-generation chemical rockets.

According to NASA's Godard Space Center's website, it lies 39,900,000,000,000 kilometres away, or 271,000 times the distance of Earth to the Sun.

Proxima Centauri, discovered in 1915, is one of three stars in the Alpha Centauri system, a constellation mainly visible from the southern hemisphere.

Explore further: Planets at Alpha Centauri?

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12 comments

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bobbysius
5 / 5 (9) Aug 12, 2016
Cool that they found it, but Proxima is an M6 flare star, so I don't think it'd be particularly "earth-like"
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (8) Aug 12, 2016
If true, this is what you might call a big deal.
wduckss
1 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2016
In both cases it is the planets unfavorable for life.
Kepler 452b is too hot (if the distance is correct then it is incorrect temperature measurement), and the eventual planet in orbit around Proxima Centauri is too far (the star is small and effects that determine the appearance of the planets are small). Suitable for life is just if there is a mass above 15 mass of the Earth.
betterexists
1 / 5 (9) Aug 12, 2016
Always something new. Constant Flood of Info. 400 years long living Sharks become Sexually Mature at only 150 yrs Age; Due to some STILL UNKNOWN PRINCIPLE, Their Body MUST have take Videos of its Surroundings?
richardwenzel987
5 / 5 (7) Aug 12, 2016
Information is always good. There is no such thing as too much knowledge. There is no such thing as a "healthy" amount of ignorance.
drmudd
3 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2016
I'm from Proxima Centauri and I can tell you that it really isn't that far away. (I go home once a year for a well earned vacation.) We're expecting you to come visit in the next century, based on your scientific progress up to this point. However, one thing that may interfere with this prediction is the answer to this question: Why do you let individuals and small groups accumulate so much power and wealth? It throws the balance off so much, that it threatens your planet's future. Please respond. Your answer will accompany me home soon.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2016
For any SF fans, Stephen Baxter wrote a couple of novels, Proxima and Ultima, based around the settlement of an exoplanet around Proxima Centauri. Very good, too.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2016
The aforementioned Baxter referenced this 2009 paper in the afterword to the first book:
"The M dwarf planet search programme at the ESO VLT + UVES -
A search for terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of M dwarfs."

http://www.aanda....-09.html
Free access.
Edenlegaia
not rated yet Aug 13, 2016
I'm from Proxima Centauri and I can tell you that it really isn't that far away. (I go home once a year for a well earned vacation.) We're expecting you to come visit in the next century, based on your scientific progress up to this point. However, one thing that may interfere with this prediction is the answer to this question: Why do you let individuals and small groups accumulate so much power and wealth? It throws the balance off so much, that it threatens your planet's future. Please respond. Your answer will accompany me home soon.


I call bullshit on that. I mean, you may come from Proxima Centauri because of your accent, but if you're asking this, it means you haven't realized our "simple" behavior and for someone from outer space, i decided it would be unacceptable.
My words are the truth and you shall believe them.
Sonhouse
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2016
As time goes on we will certainly learn more about this reputed planet, and may find life there that withstand such flares. For instance, if it has a magnetic field as strong or stronger the ours, the field may protect the surface. And of course we won't know for sure till we get better telescopes and probes that actually go there.

My question is why did it take so long even for this preliminary report for the stars closest to us to find planets.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (3) Aug 15, 2016


My question is why did it take so long even for this preliminary report for the stars closest to us to find planets.


Errm, radial velocity just isn't accurate enough to 'see' an Earth sized planet around a low mass star. And the transit method has a low luminosity star being 'eclipsed' by a very small planet. Takes a bit of seeing. The fact that (allegedly) they can see it at all, is a minor bleeding miracle.
How about celebrating what science can do, rather than forever taking a pop at it?
yaridanjo
2 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2016
This recentlydiscovered planet (by astronomers, that is) has been postulated to be the home world of a space mobile ET species back in Aug 2012. It's surface gravity is estimated to be 3.6 implying a planetary diameter 3.6 times bigger than Earth' if it is the same density. These aliens provided us with knowledge about our own solar system 4300 years ago including mass estimates of the postulated planet Nine (or Ten). General link here:

http://yaridanjo....o.html#3

The Cenos ET Aliens have long been suspected to be from planet in the Proxima Centaruri star system.

http://yaridanjo.....html#f1

"Thus, this seems like the Cenos come from a large planet with 3.6 times the surface gravity of Earth."

http://yaridanjo....S.html#g

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