The exoplanet in the habitable zone is outlined in the Alpha Centauri system

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf 4.24 light. years and around it orbits the planet Proxima b in the so-called habitable belt, which should have roughly the proportions of the Earth. But when it comes to the chances of life, the star itself reduces them to a minimum. Red dwarfs are small compared to our Sun, but they are even wilder in eruptions, and if the planet is to be in a habitable habitat, it means that it will be very close to such a star (Proxima b is only twenty times the distance of the Earth from the Sun). It also has basically a certain bound rotation, so the chances of life as we know it are very low.

Alpha Centauri through the lens of the Hubble Telescope


But the remaining stars of this system are already a different song. Rigil (or Rigel) Centaurus (Alpha Centauri A) and Toliman (Alpha Centauri B) belong to classes G and K, so especially the first of them is very similar to the Sun and also belongs to the yellow dwarfs, although it is larger and more radiant. The second star, like an orange dwarf, on the other hand, is smaller and shines fainter. Both orbit around a common center at a mutual distance of 11.2 to 35.6 AU.

left bright binary star Alpha Centauri, red circled Proxima Centauri (right is bright binary star Hadar)

So what’s new? An international team of astronomers using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile has discovered a clear signal coming from the habitable belt of the two main stars, Alpha Centauri. It was acquired thanks to a newly installed device, which is marked as a thermal chronograph and is used to shield the radiation of stars so that thermal or infrared signals from their surroundings stand out.


After a hundred hours of observation, a signal appeared that astronomers are still reluctant to say is definitely a planet. According to the first observations, it should be smaller than our Neptune, which means that it may be a smaller gas giant or, on the contrary, a huge planet with a solid surface. However, even if it is a gas giant, it can still have smaller moons in its orbit comparable to Ganymede, Callisto or Titan, or even much larger, who knows.

Additional observations will be needed to confirm the planet’s presence in Alpha Centauri A and B, and this will probably be another job for JWST, which is still waiting to take off as more and more tasks are bought for it.

It should be added that this is also the result of the NEAR project (Near Earths in the Alpha Center Region), which is supported by the Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner together with ESO (European Southern Observatory). NEAR’s task is to search for Earth-like planets at a distance of up to 20 light. flight.

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Source: Svět hardware by www.svethardware.cz.

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