Discovery of a new exoplanet orbiting the very “near” Proxima Centauri

The astrophysicist Joao Faria and scientists from Portugal’s Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences may have just discovered a third exoplanet orbiting around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system (4.2 light years away). The data collected thanks to the Very Large Telescope (TGT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) located in Chile suggest that Proxima d (after Proxima b and Proxima c) would be mainly composed of rocks and would have a mass equivalent to the quarter of the mass of our Earth.

The European Giant Telescope (ELT/Extremely Large Telescope), which will be operational in 2025, should provide a large amount of information on Proxima d.

Proxima d would be about 4 million km away from its star (Proxima Centauri) and would therefore a priori be located in the habitable zone (which does not mean inhabited), Proxima Centauri being a less bright red dwarf and less warm as our sun. As a reminder, Proxima Centauri is part of the triple system of Alpha Centauri composed of Alpha Centauri A, a star of spectral type G2 (yellow dwarf) similar to our Sun, Alpha Centauri B, a star of spectral type K1 , and thus Alpha Centauri C, which was conveniently renamed Proxima Centauri (Proxima Centauri) due to its proximity to our solar system.

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