Apr 18, 2019 | Updated: 11:44 AM EDT

“Super Earth” Might Be Orbiting the Red Dwarf Star Near the Sun

Apr 17, 2019 09:03 AM EDT

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Proxima Centauri
(Photo : . Kervella (CNRS/U. of Chile/Observatoire de Paris/LESIA), ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2, D. De Martin/M. Zamani)
Orbital plot of Proxima Centauri showing its position with respect to Alpha Centauri 

It was 2013 when traces of Proxima Centauri b were found from archival observation data. It was later confirmed through the Pale Red Dot project in 2016. The exoplanet, a planet outside the Solar System, orbits Proxima Centauri's habitable zone. Other names for Proxima Centauri b include Proxima b and Alpha Centauri Cb.

Proxima Centauri, a part of a triple star system, is the nearest red dwarf star to the Sun. Later, scientists found that Proxima Centauri had a companion (Proxima b) that orbited around the red dwarf star.

Just recentlly, Mario Damasso of Italy's Observatory of Turin announced that they have found evidence of a new planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. In the 2019 Breakthrough Distance conference, the newly discovered planet was named Proxima C.

As of now, the planet's existence is still to be confirmed. Still, data analysis done by experts reveal that Proxima C is a potential candidate that would deserve the moniker "Super Earth."

The scientists further explained that Proxima C should be at least six times larger than Earth if the existence of the exoplanet would be confirmed to exist. Scientists further explained that it could possibly take 1,936 days to complete a loop around its red dwarf star. This means that temperature on the exoplanet would be very low and water would not flow easily.

Some scientists postulate that the temperature of Proxima C is too low to support life. Still, some posit that Proxima Centauri b has a warmer temperature which means that simple forms of life might be existing or evolving in the said exoplanet.

The scientists came about the theory that Proxima C migt exixt when they re-processed 17 years' worth of Proxima Centauri data. This time, they processed the data differently, removing signals made by Proxima b.

University of Hawaii's Lauren Weiss postulates that the team might be catching signals that were caused by a combination of other planets in the system. The signals might also be stellar noise. Weiss later stated that there is nothing left to do but to keep going with the research and continue monitoring the Proxima Centauri system.

More powerful telescopes could possibly shed some light on the candidate planet. Scientists are hopeful for the development of such apparatuses in the near future.

The concept of exoplanets has been challenging the notion that Earth is the only planet that supports life in the universe.

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