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There may be another planet in Proxima Centauri

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There could exist a second exoplanet, a super planet, around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, which would then be added to Proxima Centauri b, whose discovery was announced in 2016. According to data presented by researcher Mario Damasso, this planet could orbit around the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, part of the triple system of Alpha Centauri, every 5.2 years.

According to the data acquired by Damasso’s group, it could be a super-earth, i.e. a planet with a mass higher than our earth but still lower than other planets of the solar system such as Uranus and Neptune. It would be a planet with a relatively low mass that revolves around a star itself with a low mass, something interesting for astronomers and that could even challenge the models that astronomers themselves have created in relation to the birth of the so-called “superterres.”

According to the most widespread model, these planets would form close to the so-called “snow line,” the closest point to a star where a possible orbiting planet may have solid ice on its surface. However, the hypothesized super-earth around Proxima Centauri would be beyond this point.

The hypothesis of another planet around this star was advanced when a previous study, based on data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) suggested a signal source in the light spectrum that astronomers themselves associated with the presence of another planet. Damasso and colleagues, to acquire new evidence, analyzed data over a period of time of 17.5 years to detect how the exoplanet acts on the light spectrum of the star.

The researchers discovered a regular interval of the light spectrum of the same star with a signal that occurs every 1900 days, something that cannot be associated with the magnetic field of the same star. This is not definitive evidence: further analysis will be needed to confirm the presence of this planet.

Sean Cox

I am a Physics professor at Florida A&M University and an amateur astronomer with a keen interest in not just my own areas of specialization, but also biology, robotics and computer science (I am also an amateur C++ programmer and Python developer). While my current responsibilities do not allow me to spend a whole lot of time writing about science research, I thoroughly enjoy doing so when I get the chance, and started Bitobit News to engage in that hobby and also to try to get at least a few other people interested in the wonderful world of science.

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Sean Cox
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