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Proxima Centauri has a planet!

And it would appear Proxima Centauri has a planet. About the size of this one, though I gather it's way too close to its primary to have our sort of life on it. From Science Codex.

Alpha Centauri B - Planet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth
Posted On: October 16, 2012 - 10:05pm

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. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System — only 4.3 light-years away. It is actually a triple star — a system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, designated Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red component known as Proxima Centauri [1]. Since the nineteenth century astronomers have speculated about planets orbiting these bodies, the closest possible abodes for life beyond the Solar System, but searches of increasing precision had revealed nothing. Until now.

“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,” says Xavier Dumusque (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland and Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto, Portugal), lead author of the paper. “It’s an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!”


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2012 10:14 am (UTC)
No, Alpha Centauri B can haz planet. Proxima Centauri is Alpha Centauri C.
Oct. 18th, 2012 04:51 am (UTC)
Whoops - misread that second paragraph and skimmed the third. Given relative sizes, does that make it the Alpha Centauri BB?
Oct. 17th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
The only drawback is - at 3.2 days per orbit - the planet's way too close for life.
But it's still a good indicator.
Get that warp drive finished, Professor Hawking. Please?
Oct. 31st, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
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