Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri discovered


According to Der Speigel, that is. The scientists at ESO have refused to confirm or deny reports but may make an announcement before thhe end of August:


The hunt for exoplanets has been heating up in recent years. Since it began its mission in 2009, over four thousand exoplanet candidates have been discovered by the Kepler mission, several hundred of which have been confirmed to be “Earth-like” (i.e. terrestrial). And of these, some 216 planets have been shown to be both terrestrial and located within their parent star’s habitable zone (aka. “Goldilocks zone”).

But in what may prove to be the most exciting find to date, the German weekly Der Spiegel announced recently that astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, just 4.25 light-years away. Yes, in what is an apparent trifecta, this newly-discovered exoplanet is Earth-like, orbits within its sun’s habitable zone, and is within our reach. But is this too good to be true?

For over a century, astronomers have known about Proxima Centauri and believed that it is likely to be part of a trinary star system (along with Alpha Centauri A and B). Located just 0.237 ± 0.011 light years from the binary pair, this low-mass red dwarf star is also 0.12 light years (~7590 AUs) closer to Earth, making it the closest star system to our own…

The article goes on to state that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will be announcing the finding at the end of August. But according to numerous sources, in response to a request for comment by AFP, ESO spokesman Richard Hook refused to confirm or deny the discovery of an exoplanet around Proxima Centauri. “We are not making any comment,” he is reported as saying.

What’s more, the folks at Project Starshot are certainly excited by the news. As part of Breakthrough Initiatives – a program founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner to search for intelligent life (with backing from Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg) – Starshot intends to send a laser-sail driven-nanocraft to Alpha Centauri in the coming years.

This craft, they claim, will be able to reach speeds of up to 20% the speed of light. At this speed, it will able to traverse the 4.37 light years that lie between Earth and Alpha Centauri in just 20 years. But with the possible discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, which lies even closer, they may want to rethink that objective.

As Professor Phillip Lubin – a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the brains behind Project Starshot, and a key advisor to NASA’s DEEP-IN program – told Universe Today via email:

[INDENT]“The discovery of possible planet around Proxima Centauri is very exciting. It makes the case of visiting nearby stellar systems even more compelling, though we know there are many exoplanets around other nearby stars and it is very likely that the Alpha Centauri system will also have planets.”

Naturally, there is the desire (especially amongst exoplanet enthusiasts) to interpret the ESO’s refusal to comment either way as a sort of tacit confirmation. And knowing that industry professionals are excited it about it does lend an air of legitimacy. But of course, assuming anything at this point would be premature.

If the statements made by the unnamed source, and quoted by Der Speigel, are to be taken at face value, then confirmation (or denial) will be coming shortly. In the meantime, we’ll all just need to be patient. Still, you have to admit, it’s an exciting prospect: an Earth-like planet that’s actually within reach! And with a mission that could make it there within our own lifetimes. This is the stuff good science fiction is made of, you know.**[/INDENT]


If the reports have veracity, we could expect an exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri to be tidally locked to the red dwarf star.

As a result one side would be bathed in eternal sunlight and the other in darkness.

Proxima is also known to be a very violent little star with unpredictable solar flares - so the planet would need to have a very strong magnetosphere to sustain life as we know it.


However, the areas around the edges between the extremities of hot and cold could very well be habitable.


AC is hardly “within reach.”

Engines that would allow.interstellar travel remain the stuff of fantasy.



True – for now. 120 years ago a 747 would have been a fantasy. Some fantasies have a peculiar way of becoming realities.


And as you or I will be breathing challenged long before 120 years, for us this particular fantasy will remain so.



But the laws of physics have a stubborn insistence of being. The flight of a 747 conforms easily with the laws of physics, interstellar travel not. It starts with the fact that at the speeds required even dust particles would become deadly weapons to any spacecraft.

Not even mentioning any other grave obstacles.


If only they would release all that cool technology many people report seeing in the skies all the time…whoever ‘governs’ this stuff, they could surely help in getting to this new system much quicker!


Neato stuff!

Nanu nanu!



Otto Lilienthal died 120 years ago; he would have easily recognized the 747 if he ever saw one. It’s wing is a larger version of the one he hooked to his body.

But technology that would allow star travel, or even physical equations that would permit it, are presently undreamed.



You apparently have never seen a science fiction flick. Plenty of dreamers out there. :wink:


klatu barada nikto


Enough of all these nay-saying wet blankets. I say it’s doable, in my sons’ lifetime.

All you need is something like a Jump Drive, which bends space/time so the voyage takes 3 months. The energy source problem resolves itself, because it goes so fast through interstellar space it scoops up hydrogen particles by the trillion, which the ship’s engines convert by means of solar power into useful fuel.

The crew will be headed by a pipesmoking, steady, mature skipper, who brought his gorgeous astrophysicist daughter so she can observe the rings around planets and suns, but the crew wastes all their time watching the curves around her. When they get to the planet the kid from Brooklyn, who everyone was rooting for with his accent, is tragically killed. The crew is first greeted by what seems to be gleaming, articulate caring people who look, dress, and talk, surprisingly like us. They warn the crew against the evil race on that planet, who look downright dowdy, talk with an accent worse than the Brooklyn guy, and they supposedly are trying to steal the “nice” tribe’s women.

Then the girl astrophysicist gets kidnapped!:eek: But the dowdy looking creatures don’t torture her, nor do they *****. They aren’t like that at all. They are the real good guys on that planet, they just don’t have the sophisticated PR of the articulate ones.

Long story short, the Earth people blast the supposed good guys with an atom bomb, which some Republican had thoughtfully packed away in storage. The real good guys are now in charge on that planet, the formerly dowdy women get a makeover, and are now hotties! Earth leaves behind the astrophysicist chick, and brings back home 10 former dowdies, now hotties, to Earth. They set up WiFi on that planet, diplomatic relations with the USA (not with “Earth”), and prepare for the sequel.


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Well played, commenter, well played :thumbsup:


This is actually doable. Using nuclear pulse propulsion - something that we know works - a ship can be accelerated to .1c, reducing the travel time to 40-50 years, including both acceleration and deceleration times.


There are plenty of dreams of doing it, but not of how it would be done.

If at all, we are roughly where Verne was when he wrote up going to Luna in a cannon shell. I’d venture that he knew even then that that would not work as described.



It actually did work (Verne’s stories, I mean, worked as stories, and still do). BTW, Verne was a devout Catholic; he is the counter opposite of the other great, contemporary co founder of modern science fiction as a distinct genre, H. G. Wells.

The bigger question is the, literally astronomical, cost. JFK committed the US to go to the moon at a time when people were much more willing to support that kind of investment. As years go on, the social fabric of society is breaking down, there is environmental deterioration, and far more political demand for other kinds of causes, whatever the demand of the moment. So by the time we are closer to the technology that might make, perhaps, make some kind of century round trip possible, there won’t be the political will to make it possible.


Maybe it’s where the Buggers from *Ender’s Game *live. Or better yet, the Descolada virus.


Can’t you just fire some applied phlebotnium particles through the main deflector array?

It worked for the Enterprise-D.



Week. :rolleyes:


Likely that you could, but you’d want to watch for any sort of tachyon radiation to be sure you weren’t creating - or slipping into - some sort of temporal distortion.

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