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>> A momentous announcement Wednesday, that another Earth-like planet might be right down our intergalactic highway. Astronomers with the European Southern Observatory in Chile, discovering what they call the Proxima b, clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, The Proxima Centauri. The long sought world described as rocky, larger than earth, and with a temperature suitable for water to exist on it's surface.
Making it the closest possible home for life outside of our solar system. Reuter's aerospace reporter, Irene Clotts.>> One of the reasons why astronomers are so excited about this discovery is because there actually is an opportunity to see if there are signs of water and methane and other things that might have indicate life.
>> Researchers have been monitoring the Proxima Centauri star for about two years, observing a tiny back and forth wobble they believed could be caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet. Further analysis found a nearby planet with a mass at least 1.3 times that of Earth's and orbiting about 4 million miles from the star.
That's just 5% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. But the star is much fainter and therefore cooler, putting the Proxima B planet well within a habitable zone. Still, scientists say it's surface maybe strongly affected by ultraviolet and x-ray flares from its star. Much more intense than what we feel from the sun.
This radiation along with the planet's rotation and it's formation history gives it a different climate than Earth and makes it unlikely the planet has seasons. Something scientists will examine with the next generation of telescopes. It's about 4.2 light years away. Which is several trillions of miles that's very close in astrological terms.
There's several projects that have been discussed about trying to develop faster than light speed or near light speed technology. And when you think about four light years at the speed of light and how fast the speed of light moves in a year.>> While many other so-called exoplanets have been found, the lead astronomer calls the discovery of the potential Earth-like world quote, the experience of a lifetime.
Adding the search for life on Proxima b comes next.