A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri

Anglada-Escudé, Guillem; Amado, Pedro J.; Barnes, John; Berdiñas, Zaira M.; Butler, R. Paul; Coleman, Gavin A. L.; de la Cueva, Ignacio; Dreizler, Stefan; Endl, Michael; Giesers, Benjamin; Jeffers, Sandra V.; Jenkins, James S.; Jones, Hugh R. A.; Kiraga, Marcin; Kürster, Martin; López-González, Marίa J.; Marvin, Christopher J.; Morales, Nicolás; Morin, Julien; Nelson, Richard P.; Ortiz, José L.; Ofir, Aviv; Paardekooper, Sijme-Jan; Reiners, Ansgar; Rodríguez, Eloy; Rodrίguez-López, Cristina; Sarmiento, Luis F.; Strachan, John P.; Tsapras, Yiannis; Tuomi, Mikko and Zechmeister, Mathias (2016). A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri. Nature, 536(7617) pp. 437–440.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature19106


At a distance of 1.295 parsecs, the red dwarf Proxima Centauri (α Centauri C, GL 551, HIP 70890 or simply Proxima) is the Sun’s closest stellar neighbour and one of the best-studied low-mass stars. It has an effective temperature of only around 3,050 kelvin, a luminosity of 0.15 per cent of that of the Sun, a measured radius of 14 per cent of the radius of the Sun and a mass of about 12 per cent of the mass of the Sun. Although Proxima is considered a moderately active star, its rotation period is about 83 days and its quiescent activity levels and X-ray luminosity are comparable to those of the Sun. Here we report observations that reveal the presence of a small planet with a minimum mass of about 1.3 Earth masses orbiting Proxima with a period of approximately 11.2 days at a semi-major-axis distance of around 0.05 astronomical units. Its equilibrium temperature is within the range where water could be liquid on its surface.

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