January 17, 2020 - 14:27 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The nearest star to our sun, Proxima Centauri, may actually be host to two planets, including a "Super-Earth," Fox News reports citing a new study.
The research, published in Science Advances, notes that there is "evidence of a possible second planet" orbiting around the star, 4.2 light-years from Earth. If it is indeed a planet, the celestial object, potentially known as Proxima c, could well be what's known as a "super-Earth," an exoplanet that has a mass larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.
A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.
It's likely that the planet is not habitable, the study's lead author, Mario Damasso, told Fox News.
"Not habitable at all, I would say, since we predict with back of the envelope calculation its temperature to be around 40 Kelvin," Damasso said in an email. "We have no clue on the actual planet structure and composition, although we can likely imagine that it has an extended atmosphere made mostly of [hydrogen] and [helium]."
Damasso compared Proxima c to exoplanet K2-18, a planet that is in the habitable zone of its star, "but actually far from being habitable, making Proxima c out of business."
The astronomers looked at more than 17 years' worth of radial velocity data to come up with their conclusion.
While it's likely another planet, the researchers cannot completely rule out that the evidence spotted could be coming from the star's magnetic field.