Scientists have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting the closest star in our solar system, Proxima Centauri. This planet, called Proxima b, has a mass of 1.17-times that of the Earth and is located in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, 4.2-light-years away. The team used data collected by ESPRESSO, a newly developed spectrograph capable of detecting planets around low-mass stars with extreme precision. Read more for a video and additional information.
ESPRESSO performed radial velocity measurements on Proxima Centauri with an accuracy of 30 cm/s, or in other words, three times more precise than those that were obtained in 2016 using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). As mentioned previously, Proxima b is 1.17 earth masses and orbits around its star in just 11.2 days.
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We were already very happy with the performance of HARPS, which has been responsible for discovering hundreds of exoplanets over the last 17 years. We’re really pleased that ESPRESSO can produce even better measurements, and it’s gratifying and just reward for the teamwork lasting nearly 10 years,” said study co-author Professor Francesco Pepe.