New Planet Where A Year Only Lasts Five Days On Earth Discovered By Scientists
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Scientists have discovered a new planet in our closest neighbouring planetary system where a year only lasts five Earth days.
I'm sure there are lot of people on Earth who would have loved certain years to have only actually lasted five days — your most awkward teenage years, perhaps, or the disaster that was 2020 — but while we're stuck with our regular 365, a new alien world named Proxima d is rapidly knocking the years out.
Proxima d is the third planet to have been discovered in the neighbouring system and is currently one of the lightest exoplanets ever discovered, with a mass that of just a quarter of the Earth.
Today we have a big announcement! After a lot of effort, we proudly present you Proxima d, a sub-Earth orbiting our beloved neighbour Proxima! In an article by Joao Faria @astroaware pic.twitter.com/jOpZUG6MxP— ESPRESSO Science Team (@espresso_astro) February 10, 2022
It is located just four light-years away and orbits around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our own Sun, which also hosts exoplanets Proxima b and Proxima c.
While Proxima b has a temperature suitable for liquid water and a rocky surface, potentially making it habitable, Proxima d orbits between Proxima Centauri and the habitable area, making it too close to have liquid water and close enough to its star that a year on the planet equates to only five days on Earth.
João Faria, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Portugal, has suggested Proxima d may not be the last planet discovered by scientists in the neighbouring system.
Per The Independent, he commented, 'The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbour seems to be packed with interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration.'
If you’ve been following our progress, you will know that for a while we’ve been trying to catch that tiny signal present in the ESPRESSO data of Proxima. It took longer than expected but we finally did it.https://t.co/EwShP1b9sv— ESPRESSO Science Team (@espresso_astro) February 10, 2022
Researchers were able to determine the size of Proxima d using the 'radial velocity technique', which monitors tiny movements in stars caused by the gravity of the planets. The newly-discovered world is the smallest to have been measured using this technique, with scientists using the ESPRESSO instrument on the Very Large Telescope to watch how the planet only moved the star about 40 centimetres per hour.
Commenting on the information learned about Proxima d, Pedro Figueira, ESPRESSO instrument scientist at ESO in Chile said, 'This achievement is extremely important. It shows that the radial velocity technique has the potential to unveil a population of light planets, like our own, that are expected to be the most abundant in our galaxy and that can potentially host life as we know it.'
The first planet in the neighbouring system, Proxima b, was discovered in 2016.
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