There is a newly discovered, roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star. According to a team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory in La Silla, Chile, this planet may be habitable. The new planet, dubbed Proxima b, is over 1.3 times the mass of our planet.
This new planet circles around Proxima Centauri, a member of the a triple star system called Alpha Centauri. Located over 4 light-years away, Proxima is the closest star to Earth after our own sun.
Proxima b takes just 11 days for it to complete a single orbit around Proxima Centauri, making it's orbit closer than Mercury's to our own sun. With Proxima Centauri being much fainter than our own sun, temperatures could allow the presence for liquid water.
According to Oliver Guyon, a planet hunting affiliate of NASA's JPL in Pasadena, CA,
"The closest star to us has a possible rocky planet in the habitable zone. That's a huge deal. It also boosts the already existing, mounting body of evidence that such planets are near, and that several of them are probably sitting quite close to us. This is extremely exciting."
So the question is...if Proxima b is potentially habitable, how do we find life if its there??
Read more on the European Southern Observatory press release
The above image is an artist's impression of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser