Scientists have finally confirmed what we Science Fiction fans have known all along: Alpha Centauri has a planet!
Alpha Centauri is the nearest star system to our own, a mere 4.3 light years away. The starship Enterprise could get there in like ten minutes. The Alpha Centauri system is a little different from what we’re used to. It has a total of three stars. Two that are about the same size as our own sun orbit each other. They’re called Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. A red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri orbits them both.
The newly discovered planet orbits Alpha Centauri B. By the rules of our current planet naming conventions that means it has the rather embarrassing name of Alpha Cantauri Bb. According to scientists, it is Earth-sized, but its orbit is closer to its parent star than Mercury is to our Sun. There’s a good chance the surface is molten lava and almost no chance it could support life. Of course that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that there’s a freaking planet in Alpha Centauri!
The discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb is only the beginning. Come check out today’s post on Tomorrow News Network where I predict what else we’ll find in the Alpha Centauri system (click here).
“First Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System” from the Planetary Society.
“Next Door Neighbors? Earth-Sized Planet Discovered in Nearest Star System to Us” from Universe Today.