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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora