Earth sized Planet Around Alpha Centauri

Posted: October 16, 2012 by noxprognatus in News, Science


The nearest star detected orbiting Earth twin

Foto: ESO/

Date of publication: 
16.10.2012 19:25




European astronomers have discovered that around the nearest star Alpha Centauri orbits the planet whose mass is nearly equal to the Earth


It is also the lightest planet ever discovered. Investigations were carried out with the help of the instrument HARPS mounted on the 3.6 m telescope of the La Silla Observatory in Chile. 

Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern sky and the closest solar system – is only 4.3 light years away.This system is actually composed of three stars – Alpha Centauri A and B, which are similar to the Sun and move in orbits close to each other and one distant, pale, red Proxima Centauri. The possibility that in this system there are planets and possibly life scientists speculate since the 19th century, however, even a very precise studies have failed to reveal anything.Until today. 

‘Our observations HARPS instrument that lasted for more than four years have revealed a small, but real signal coming from the planets turned around Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days, “said lead researcher Xavier Dumusque from the Geneva Observatory and the Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto in Portugal. “This is an extraordinary discovery, in which we use our technique to the limit. ‘ 

The existence of a small planet was determined from the wobble of the star images influenced by its gravity. The effect is truly portable – runs the star forward or backward at a speed of 1.8 kilometers per hour, which is about the speed of crawling children. The planet is around Alpha Centauri B at a distance of about six million miles, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun. From another star Alpha Centauri A is a hundred times further, however, and it is in his heaven, probably a very shiny object. 

The first exoplanet in the sun-like star was discovered early as 1995. Since then, it has found more than 800, however, generally are all much larger than Earth. The biggest challenge for scientists is to search for small planets the size of Earth that are in the habitable zones of their parent stars. 

“This result represents a major step in the discovery of Earth’s twins in the immediate vicinity of our Sun.We live in an exciting time, “said Xavier Dumusque. 

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