Researchers revealed that another planetary system might be situated a lot closer to our own than we used to think. Our neighboring red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri, might not be alone in the universe, as they identified traces a dusty ring around it. This ring might be the sign of more planets besides Proxima B orbiting around the star.
Proxima B is not the only planet orbiting Proxima Centauri
Proxima Centauri belongs in the Centaur constellation, and is situated 4.2 light-years away from Earth. After astronomers studied the star, they established it governs over only one planet, Proxima B, which bears a strong resemblance to our own Earth. This attracted the attention of the scientists, who started analyzing the lone exoplanet.
The investigations revealed that Proxima B has the optimal surface temperature for liquid water to exist. Also, it might be possible for it to sustain life. However, after a more thorough study, NASA brought bad news. Proxima B couldn’t be a new Earth, as too many stellar radiations issued by the parent star could reduce the oxygen supply in the atmosphere.
A dust ring and several dusty belts appear to surround the red dwarf star
However, researchers didn’t stop here, and kept studying the mini-system of Proxima Centauri. With the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a series of telescopes spread all over Chile, they revealed the origin of the mysterious dusty ring.
Its presence around the star might mean that Proxima B is not the only exoplanet orbiting it. The system might host more planets, which spent quite a long time interacting with each other. This resulted in the dust belt which spread all around the star. In fact, this belt reminded scientists of the Kuiper belt, which surrounds the Solar System.
They even elaborated a paper on some possible dust belts spreading all around the system. This discovery is essential as evidence in favor of the multiplanetary system. Also, it offers future prospects for exploration and study. The paper is soon to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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