What is beyond the borders of the Earth? Space is so limitless that there is no end to discoveries. Its exploration holds enormous surprises, from stars and satellites to planets and solar systems. A huge universe that we cannot know completely, but thanks to astrophysicists, we can make a small experiment of it.
While we still wonder if the extraterrestrials that look like us really exist, we wonder about UFOs and we fantasize about a futuristic scenario in which it will be possible for everyone to land on other worlds, scientists bring us a new discovery: a new planet in the planetary system closest to Earth .
image credit: Fernando Velázquez/Flickr-Not the actual photo
It is called Proxima d and orbits Proxima Centauri, the closest red dwarf star to the Sun in our system, at a distance of four light-years.
It is the third planet detected in this star system, after Proxima c and Proxima b, discovered in 2016 and confirmed in 2020. This event caused great excitement since it was a planet “close” to ours and of the same size, which could have made it habitable. On Proxima b, in fact, there are rocky surfaces and its temperature causes the water to remain in a liquid state, which is favorable to the possible formation of life as we know it.
Proxima d, on the other hand, is not as comfortable: its position, halfway between the star and the habitable zone, does not make possible the presence of water in the liquid state. Furthermore, a year on its surface would be equivalent to just five days on Earth.
image credit: Pixabay-Not the actual photo
It is one of the lightest exoplanets – that is to say, belonging to systems in orbit around a star – to date: its mass represents a quarter of that of the Earth.
Scientists calculated its size using the radial velocity technique, which estimates the slight motion of stars caused by planets and uses this to estimate their mass: Proxima d causes a slight displacement, attracting and repelling Proxima Centauri back and forth at about 40 centimeters per second.
To locate the alien planet, the researchers used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
According to scientists, continued research could lead to the discovery of new planets: who knows, maybe one day we will get wind of an inhabited world exactly like ours, on which we could envisage living. .