The nearest exo-Earth, confirmed by ESPRESSO


Artistic representation of the rocky planet Proxima b orbiting its star, Proxima Centauri. Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC).

An international team led by researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), and involving researchers from the Center for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC-INTA), has confirmed the presence of the nearest extrasolar planet to Earth, Proxima b, using the ESPRESSO instrument, installed in Chile's Very Telescope Large (VLT). This result helps to clarify the conditions of the planetary system nearest to Earth.

The study, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, certainly establishes the presence of the planet Proxima b, discovered four years ago orbiting the star nearest to the Sun. The discovery was made close to the limit of the accuracy of the instruments of the moment and indicated the presence of an exoplanet candidate of Earth-like mass and located in the habitability zone of Proxima Centauri. Confirmation has been made possible by the use of the new ESPRESSO instrument, the most accurate spectrograph in the world, installed in the Very Large Telescope (VLT), located at the Cerro Paranal observatory (Chile) and belonging to the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

ESPRESSO offers excellent performance for the assessment of terrestrial planets in the habitability areas of the stars of the solar neighborhood. This has made it robustly confirmed the presence of the small planet around the proxima centauri star, as well as a finer determination of the physical parameters of the planet.

"ESPRESSO has shown that it can go beyond what no spectrograph had ever come before," says Alejandro Suárez Mascareño, IAC researcher and first author of the study.

For Jorge Lillo Box, researcher at CAB and co-author of the study, "ESPRESSO has confirmed to us that the star nearest to our planetary system has a planet of Earth-like characteristics in the habitable zone of its star. But this is just the starting point. Understanding the astrobiological implications of this finding will require new observations with ESPRESSO and other instruments, both from the ground and from Space." 


Fuente: UCC-CAB

Fecha: 2020-05-26


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