Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized world in orbit around the next nearest star system to our own.
The small rocky planet is the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a Sun-like star, it is also the nearest at just 4.3 light years. The Alpha Centauri system has long intrigued astronomers as it is the closest to us and is likely to be our first interstellar destination when future space-faring technology permits us to travel beyond the confines of our own solar system.
"Our observations extended over more than four years using the HARPS instrument and have revealed a tiny, but real, signal from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days," said lead author Xavier Dumusque. "Itís an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!"
"European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system - the nearest to Earth."
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