This planet is reported to be in the habitable zone around its star and is only four light years away. However, an exoplanet can only be reached if humans figure out how to travel at the speed of light.
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Proxima is the closest star to the Sun. It is a dim red dwarf, smaller than our Sun and many thousands of times fainter. The planet, which astronomers have named “Proxima d”, was discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Sun.
The planet is more than four light-years away, meaning it would take humans at least 800 years to get there with the most advanced technology available today.
However, if in the future humans can travel at the speed of light through outer space, Proxima d will be within reach.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced the discovery in early 2022, when Proxima d became the third planet discovered in the solar system of Proxima Centauri.
Juan Faria, a researcher at Spain’s Institute of Astrophysics and Science in Portugal, said: “The discovery shows that our nearest stellar neighbor appears to be filled with exciting new worlds and is within reach for further exploration and future research.”
The exoplanet, which is about a quarter the size of Earth and completes an orbit around its star in just five days, is thought to be in its solar system’s habitable zone.
Even though the planet is only 2.48 million miles from the star Proxima Centauri, or in other words more than 10 times the distance between the Sun and Mercury, the conditions are hospitable enough to have liquid water on its surface and even life itself.
Proxima d was first seen by scientists in 2020 when they observed the sky with the high-precision HARPS instrument at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Subsequent checks on the Rocky Exoplanet Spectrograph and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) later confirmed the discovery of the planet.