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Astronomers have found the "big sister" of Earth near the nearest star



14/11/2013

(updated: )

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MOSCOW, November 14 – RIA Novosti. European astronomers have discovered a relatively small "super-earth" that orbits Barnard, the closest single lamp for us. Her description and first images are presented in the Nature magazine.

Thus, the artist imagined the asteroid belt in Prokima Centauri
Astronomers have discovered the asteroid belt at the nearest star

"Barnard's star has a pretty bad reputation among astronomers – in the past, many people have talked about the discovery of the planet next to him, and all of these statements were subsequently rejected. We hope that this time we will not cheat," said Gilme Anglada Eskud (Guillem Anglada-Escude) from the Kueen Mari University in London.

Show us in the sky

Two years ago, Anglada Escud and his colleagues wrote an incredible discovery – they managed to find a small planet similar to a planet near Prokima Centauri, a red dwarf from the triple Alpha Centauri system and the closest star.

At first, scientists thought Prokima b was the nearest rocky planet for us, which is similar to Earth in all its characteristics. Today, many planologists believe that life on it is impossible because of the turbulent nature of the red dwarf, on whose surface there are constant blasts that can "bring down" the atmosphere from the planet.

So, the artist presented the surface of the planet in Prokima Centauri.
Astronomers have begun a massive search for the "twins" of Earth on nearby stars

After discovering this, Anglade-Eskuds wondered if similar planets and other stars were closest to us, most of which are red dwarfs – Barnard's stars, only six light years away from the Earth, and Ross 154, located in almost ten light years. from the solar system.

In order to search for these planets, scientists created the Pale Red Dot project, in analogy with the photo of the Earth, obtained by the Voiager-1 probe in 1990, at a distance of 6 billion kilometers from our planet, which the great astronomer Karl Sagan called "the smoke of a blue dot "at one of his public lectures.

Planet Prokima Centauri b, a potential twin of the Earth
The scientists found the "twin" of Earth near our closest star, Prokima Centauri

As part of this project, Anglada Escud and his colleagues watched these stars for 90 days using an HARPS instrument mounted on a 3.6-meter telescope at the La Silla Chilean Observatory.

This device, as the planetologists explain, caught at least a "tremor" in the position of stars in the sky, which is the result of their gravitational interactions with the planets. This helps to find even in those cases, if exomers do not go through the star's disk and do not cause their temporary disappearance.

Earth's older sister

The bet on a similar approach, as Anglada Eskud had noticed at a press conference, almost immediately gave a result. After analyzing the archives of the past 20 years of observing the star of Barnard, prepared by the Pale Red Dot participants, as well as studying with HARPS and other tools over the past two years, scientists have found "99% hint" about the existence of this planet's planet.

According to scientists, this planet is at a record distance from a star for red sneakers. It revolves about 233 days and about the same distance from Venus from the Sun. Its mass, according to current estimates of the researchers, is about 3.5 times greater than that of the Earth, which allows it to rank it among relatively small "superstars".

Solar system and surrounding stars

Despite the smaller distance from the star, this planet receives about 50 times less light and heat from Earth because of the small size and smoke of Barnard's star. For this reason, life on its surface can hardly exist – typical temperatures on its surface do not exceed minus 170 degrees Celsius.

If it has a dense atmosphere that contains a lot of gases with a greenhouse effect, then it will be similar to Mars in terms of climate, which leaves little chance of life on its surface. Scientists will be able to get the correct answer to this question only when they find out if there is an atmosphere and what it consists of.

The Star Wind Proxima Centauri probably destroyed the atmosphere of the planet
Life in the shadow of the red dwarf: what to expect from the closest exoplanets

It will happen very quickly – the short distance from the star Bernard, as well as its boring character, make her planet world a prime candidate for receiving the first detailed images of the world outside the solar system.

Scientists hope that his first photos will get already launched a GAIA mission, as well as VFIRST and James Webb telescopes, which NASA will launch in space early next decade.


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