A new world can be inhabited by humans in the future might be located just across of our homes from the perspective of astronomy. A team of astronomers, through a publication in the Nature journal on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, revealed that Proxima Centauri, the nearest planetary system to our solar system, most likely have a habitable planet.
|An illustration of Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri. The Proxima b is the closest known, potentially habitable planet. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1ddIcQ)|
The new planet was named Proxima b. And the astronomers revealed its existence with detect the "wobble" of star when the planet passes, through a method known as radial velocity. The detection is performed with the instruments called High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), which is located in the Atacama desert, Chile.
|The HARPS instrument is attached to a 3.6m telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1ddHwd)|
"We're talking about a planet that has similarities with the Earth," said Guillem Anglada Escude, an astronomer from Queen Mary University of London, who led the study.
Just like the Earth, Proxima b was a rocky planet. The Planet was also located in goldlilocks zone, ie a zone that was fitting to support the creation of precise temperature which allows the presence of water in liquid form. The planet estimated 1.3 times the size of Earth that are at a distance of approximately 7.5 million kilometers from its parent star.
|An illustration of the sights of Proxima b surface and its parent star Proxima Centauri. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1ddHwd)|
The proximity of distance to the star does not necessarily make the Proxima b like in a hell. It could be happened because of the Proxima Centauri was not as hot as the Sun. And the planet was classified as a red dwarf, and cooler.
|How big is the Proxima Centauri? (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1ddHwd)|
The distance from the Earth to Proxima Centauri itself is around 40 trillion kilometers. The distance that is very far, but in the perspective of astronomy is very close. Proxima Centauri can be likened to a complex across the street from us. These planetary system was the closest to Earth, even closer than the famous double star system Alpha Centauri.
"It's not just the nearest rocky planet, but the closest planet outside our solar system that ever found. Due to there's no planetary system that is closer to our solar system other than Proxima Centauri," said Escude.
With today's technology, we still need thousands of years to reach Proxima b. The life span of one generation alone is not enough.
"Obviously, to go there now is an impossible mission. However, we would think, not just in the imagination of scientists to send the spacecraft to go there," Escude said as quoted by the BBC on Thursday, August 25, 2016.
|Location and distance of the Proxima Centauri? (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1ddHwd)|
Not yet known whether the planet has an atmosphere like the Earth. However, Escude optimistic that in the next 10 years, whether or not the atmosphere existence at Proxima b will be found.
The existence of the atmosphere will determine whether the Proxima b really could be the our future home. Otherwise, the temperature at the planet's surface would be too cold for humans. And the sending of a special spacecraft to examine Proxima b can be done so that the characteristics of the planet more quickly revealed.
What happens if human live there? The experiences will be different than the Earth. When the planet has similar atmosphere with the Earth, so the color of twilight in there is similar to the dusk in late spring. However, the stars will be visible in the silent, not like the Sun. Why, because only one side of the planet facing the parent star.
Although there are still many questions, the astronomers welcomed these findings. "To know had the nearest star which has a potentially habitable planet was amazing," said Edward Guinan of Villanova University. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | BBC]
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