In January 2020, astronomers discovered a potential Super Earth orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the Sun.
At that time, the second planet spotted in near-by planetary system located at a distance of about 4 million kilometers from our sun.
Now, scientists might have come across a 3rd planet within the clearly crowded region, Acc to a press release by the ESO.
New planet in proxima centauri
“The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbor appears to be packed with interesting new worlds, within the scope of further study & future exploration,” said João Faria, a researcher at Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Portugal & lead author of the study published today in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The researchers, however, weren’t very creative in naming the new planet: simply calling it Proxima d. The other 2 planets discovered in system have been named Proxima b & Proxima c.
Proxima d is only a quarter of Earth’s mass, making it the lightest exoplanet ever measured using radial velocity technique. This technique involves identifying tiny wobbles in the motion of a star, this time Proxima Centauri, created by the orbiting planet gravitational pull.
The researchers noted that the gravity of the Proxima d is so small that, it only cause Proxima Centauri wobble at about 40 cm per sec (1.44 km per hour). Other data suggests that the planet completes a full orbit of star every 5 days at 1/10 of the distance between the Sun & Mercury.
Unfortunately, it is located at about 4 million Km from its star, closer than its habitable zone, closer than its habitable zone, which means it is not a good candidate for presence of water. Evidence of the planet’s presence in 2020 has been gathered during investingation of Proxima b, first planet discovered in the nearby planetary system.
However, it took observations made with ESPRESSO, an instrument on the ESO telescope, to conclude that a real planet was the cause of the detected disruptions and not changes itself in Proxima Centauri. Now the researchers hope to be able to make even more discoveries with this tool. “This result clearly shows what the ESPRESSO is able to, and wonder what will it able to find in the future,” Pedro Figueira concluded, an ESPRESSO instrument scientist at the ESO in Chile.