Newly Discovered Exoplanet, Proxima Centauri b, Now On Our Cosmic Map

Today, in more important things humans are doing: as we continue to point our telescopes beyond our tiny home, we continue to make further discoveries of our insignificance. At which point we are able to worry less about ourselves and more about our decedents and their future in truly understanding the universe they live in. Science continues to force us to change our thinking. Perhaps, our children's children's children will stand in a true dawn of reason. Warm with new discovery and bright in human potential. 

The planet is at the right place to have a temperature that allows the presence of liquid water on its surface. The question of habitability is however very complex. We need to confirm that this is a terrestrial planet. The best way to do that would be to directly image the planet using the giant telescopes equipped with extreme adaptive optics that are currently being built (i.e., the E-ELT, TMT, GMT). The angular separation between the star and the planet is 39 milli-arcsec, so a telescope as large as 30 m could resolve the system with the right instrument, detecting the planet and possibly giving us insights into its composition. . .Ultimately, this discovery is a significant step on the road to mapping our galaxy. And it has given us a new world to explore, and one that is not too far away. We may not go there any time soon, but it will motivate us (and our funding agencies!) to design and build instruments to image and characterize this planet. What could possibly be more exciting than, in the not-too-distant future, get a picture of a terrestrial planet whose atmosphere we can see and on which we could possibly detect signatures of life? That monumental moment may come in the next decade, and will definitely happen faster now that we know where to point our telescopes.

 - Franck Marchis

Read The Scientific Article Published In Nature