Earth-Sized Exoplanet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System
Published October 17, 2012
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Tags: Alpha Centauri, astronomy, blogs, European Southern Observatory, exoplanet, HARPS, popular, science, SciTechDaily, technology
This artist’s impression shows the planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Alpha Centauri B is the most brilliant object in the sky and the other dazzling object is Alpha Centauri A. Our own Sun is visible to the upper right. The tiny signal of the planet was found with the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)
Astronomers have uncovered a low-mass planet orbiting α Centauri B, a member of the stellar system neighboring our Solar System. Although the exoplanet is nearly identical to Earth in mass, it’s much closer to its star than Mercury to the Sun, so it’s expected to be scorched and barren. As astronomers search α Centauri for more hospitable worlds, its astronomical proximity will probably spur dreams of interstellar exploration projects.
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