Scientists have discovered what they believe to be a second planet orbiting the star closest to our solar system, “Proxima Centauri.” And light readings by an international team have revealed that the low-mass planet around which a star system revolves is about half the size of Neptune, where data indicate that this named planet Temporarily “Proxima c” completes the orbit of the solar system every 5.2 years.
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, the planet may have a higher mass than our original planet, but less than the ice giants Uranus and Neptune.
“The proximity of the planet and its orbital distance to a relatively large distance from its star means that it is one of the best possible direct observational opportunities that will enable the understanding of the nature of another planet,” said Hugh Jones, professor of astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire.
The new discovery is also found in Alpha Centauri, the adjacent planetary system, which is a three-star system, and among them, Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the solar system at a distance of 4.2 light-years.
A previous study using Atacama Large Millimeter, an astronomical observatory in northern Chile, reported an unknown source of light spectrum signals that could belong to a second planet.
To understand whether the signal originated from another planet orbiting the star, Mario Damasu at the INAF-Astrophysical Observatory of Torino and colleagues analyzed a 17.5-year time series of high-resolution radial velocities using the method of detecting exoplanets that track the star’s spectrum.
They found the signal to occur over 1,900 days, indicating that it was unlikely to be related to periodic shifts in the star’s magnetic field.
While analyzing periodic changes in the star’s light spectrum may be evidence of a second planet, Proxima c’s position as a planet has not yet been confirmed, but if so, it might provide insight into how low-mass planets form around low-mass stars.