SETI Live: A Third Exoplanet Found Around Our Nearest Star, Proxima Centauri

f we want to make contact one day with life around another star, there’s no better place to look than at worlds around Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our sun.

Astronomers have already detected two exoplanets – worlds orbiting other stars – orbiting our closest stellar neighbor, which is only 4.2 light-years away. On February 10, 2022, researchers led by João Faria, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, announced the detection of a third alien world around the red dwarf star using data from the Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).

Proxima d is the lightest exoplanet ever measured using the radial velocity (RV) technique (1/4 the mass of Earth), with a tiny wobble in the motion of the star of 1.44 km/h (0.9 MPH). This result clearly shows what ESPRESSO is capable of and makes us wonder about what it will be able to find in the future.

Franck Marchis, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, will discuss this remarkable discovery and the consequences for the search for exoplanets and life in our galaxy with João Faria.

Paper: J.P. Faria et al. 2022. A candidate short-period sub-Earth orbiting Proxima Centauri. A&A 658, A115; doi:…

EarthSky article on the discovery:…

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