In DepthAstronomy

The exoplanet next door

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Science  26 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6302, pp. 857
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6302.857

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After years of scrutinizing the closest star to Earth, a red dwarf known as Proxima Centauri, astronomers have finally found evidence for a planet, slightly bigger than Earth, well within the star’s habitable zone—the range of orbits in which liquid water could exist on its surface. Researchers have already found hundreds of similarly sized planets, and many appear to be far better candidates for hosting life than the one around Proxima Centauri, called Proxima b. But researchers are excited because, at just 4.25 light-years away, the planet may be within reach of telescopes and techniques that could reveal more about its composition and atmosphere than that of any other exoplanet discovered to date.