News / Science & Technology

Earth-sized Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System

An artist’s impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. (photo: European Southern Observatory)
An artist’s impression of the planet around Alpha Centauri B, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. (photo: European Southern Observatory)
VOA News
Astronomers in Europe have discovered the first-ever planet with a mass similar to Earth and orbiting a star like the Sun. And, in galactic terms, it’s right next door.

The unnamed planet is in the Alpha Centauri star system, the nearest system to Earth, according to the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

“This result represents a major step towards the detection of a twin Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun. We live in exciting times!” said Xavier Dumusque of the Geneva Observatory and Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto in Portugal in a press release on the discovery.

Despite the excitement, scientists say the new planet’s climate likely would not be nearly as hospitable as Earth.

“Its orbit is very close to its star and it must be much too hot for life as we know it,” said Stéphane Udry of the Geneva Observatory and a co-author of the paper about the discovery.

The newly discovered planet orbits a mere six million kilometers from its star, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun.

Alpha Centauri is the nearest stellar system to the earth’s solar system at only 4.3 light-years, making it one of the brightest objects in the southern skies. It is actually a three-star system made up of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red star known as Proxima Centauri.

By detecting tiny wobbles in the motion of Alpha Centauri B, astronomers were able to determine the presence of the planet. The planet’s effect on the star causes it to move no more than 51 centimeters per second, or about the speed of a baby crawling, according to a press release.

In 1995, the same team discovered the first exoplanet around a Sun-like star. There have been more than 800 confirmed discoveries of exoplanets using the same wobble method since then, according to the ESO, but scientists have yet to find a planet of Earth’s size orbiting at a habitable distance from its star.

The planet was detected at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, and the full results of the finding appears online in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sawaki Oyabun from: Japan
October 20, 2012 8:00 PM
We need not to be a only ones to exist in this universe. There are tens of thousands of millions of billions of stars in the universe and they have several planets.
But possibility is very low to live in the same time.

by: link from: China
October 18, 2012 8:10 PM
It's very exciting ! I am looking forward to the day's coming that human can fly away the sun-system and live on another planet.

by: DVSathe from: Pune / MH / India
October 18, 2012 2:33 AM
The new planet is orbiting the parent star, very very rapidly, compared our planets. So it would be interesting know if the relation between the period of revolution of that planet and its distance from the star is in accordance with Kepler's third law of planetary motion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More