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Proxima Centauri may have several planets

Posted on Monday, 6 November, 2017 | Comment icon 8 comments

Could there be habitable planets in orbit around Proxima Centauri ? Image Credit: NASA
Observations of our closest neighboring star have revealed the possible presence of multiple planets.
Astronomers have detected thousands of extrasolar worlds over the last few years, but while many of them have the potential to be habitable, they are all too far away for us to ever actually visit.

This all changed last year however when Proxima b, a potentially Earth-like world, was discovered a mere 4.25 light years away in orbit around the star Proxima Centauri - our nearest neighbor.

Now thanks to Chile's Atacama Large Millimeter Array (Alma) telescope, a team of astronomers have determined that this nearby system is also home to a cloud of orbiting asteroids.

"So we think that whenever there is a planet around a star, there's going to be some kind of asteroid belt as well," said astronomer Enrique Macias. "It's just debris from the formation of the system."

The discovery strongly points to the likely presence of additional planets.

If this turns out to be the case, given how close by Proxima Centauri actually is, it may offer mankind with a unique opportunity to study an entirely new planetary system in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Independent | Comments (8)

Tags: Proxima Centauri, Extrasolar, Planet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Twin on 6 November, 2017, 22:11
If we leave now we can probably get there in about 40,000 yrs.
Comment icon #2 Posted by FateAmeniableToChange on 6 November, 2017, 23:08
interesting! i think a major problem any future missions to other solar systems are going to have is being able to enter the inner system due to dense clouds of debris,asteroids etc leftover from planet formation and held by gravity, every star will be densely encapsulated.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 6 November, 2017, 23:19
It won't be a problem. Asteroid fields are nothing like they are shown in the movies, they are thousand of mile apart. You would have to be extraordinarily unlucky to hit anything large enough to damage a spacecraft. Spacecraft have passed through Earth's asteroid belt regularly with no incident, the asteroid belts of other solar systems will be no different.
Comment icon #4 Posted by fred_mc on 7 November, 2017, 8:44
Yes, and since technology and understanding of physics moveforward we will probably be overtaken by a ship that left much later but which has technology that can take it there faster.
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer on 7 November, 2017, 17:16
Perhaps we should send a probe once we get the ion drive far enough developed and worth trying out on a trip.
Comment icon #6 Posted by I'mConvinced on 7 November, 2017, 17:25
If our solar sail technology works we could be there in 20 years...
Comment icon #7 Posted by I'mConvinced on 7 November, 2017, 17:26
We're already doing it. The plan is to send tiny probes, sped up to 1/5th the speed of light by Earth based laser light, to make the first determinations.
Comment icon #8 Posted by paperdyer on 7 November, 2017, 17:32
@I'mConvinced - Thanks, I said it was one of those days. After you mentioned it I remembered. I couldn't remember my daughter's wedding anniversary date yesterday. Sometimes meds are a bad thing.

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