European astronomers have found what appears to be a small, rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to the sun that could ”theoretically” have water on its surface ans support some form of life.
They say the planet, named Proxima b, orbits Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star about 4.2 light years from our solar system.
Researchers say it’s located in the star’s so-called ”habitable zone.”
The lead author of the study, an astrophysicist from Queen Mary University of London says ”We hit the jackpot here.”
Guillem Anglada-Escude says the planet is ”more or less what we have on Earth.”
While scientists have discovered thousands of planets outside our solar system over the years, study co-author R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution for Science says this one ”basically puts a giant flashing neo sign on the nearest star saying: See this right here.”
They feel it’s the closest potentially habitable planet ever detected outside our solar system and may be reachable by unmanned space probes before the end of this century.
The study can be found in the journal ‘Nature.’