The most effective way we have to know what is happening in the most remote corners of the universe is light. This is what allows To see beyond of what, redundancy is worth, is visible to the naked eye. Now, in fact, a new analysis of the cyclic changes in the light spectrum of Next Centauri, the closest star to our Sun, suggests that around it there could be a previously unknown planet. The research, published this Wednesday in the journal 'Science Advances', points to the exciting possibility that we are facing a new temperate world and, in a way, similar to the one we found. Although it is not expected to meet the right conditions to house life.
The planet in question, if confirmed, would inherit the name of Next Centauri c. The letter a would continue to designate the host star, located about 4,243 light years from the earth. The b would refer to what until now was the only known planet that roams around and that, surprisingly, was also discovered relatively recently, in 2016. And the c, finally, would stay for the newly presented planet. "It is not an unexpected finding"comments the Italian astrophysicist Mario Damasso, who, as the leader of the international team of researchers that has made this discovery possible, already speaks of this as "our planet."
For now, the data collected draws a first overview of how could this new world be. In his debut, in fact, Próxima Centauri c is already presented to his audience as a super earth. This term, as grandiloquent as it may sound to those who are unfamiliar with astronomical developments, denotes those terrestrial planets with a mass greater than that of our planet. In this case, in fact, everything suggests that Next Centauri c would be a rocky world with a six times higher dough to the terrestrial but, still, inferior to the one that we would find in giants of the Solar System like Uranus or Neptune. This gigantic world, unfit for life, would take more than five years to complete its orbit. A somewhat unusual fact that, for researchers, will be an additional difficulty in corroborating its existence.
Mysteries to solve
But the one that maybe is the most surprising data It has been found where it was not sought. The planets that are located at that distance from their star are usually gaseous, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. This, on the other hand, is rocky, like Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. "Theoretically, according to the current standard, it should not be there," says Cristina Rodríguez-López, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC). This, therefore, would force us to rethink theories about the formation of celestial bodies. Or, better yet, it would open the possibility of exploring hypotheses as diverse as the planet migration.
"We hope the next generation of instruments can help us to clear all these questions and, above all, to throw more convincing data on the existence of this planet, "Damasso explains enthusiastically to this newspaper. To do this, he explains, we will have to wait until the start-up of the new and powerful telescopes that are being built in Chile, in China and in other parts of the world. Or to the publication of mission data Gaia, which could come from 2023. "Until then, to be correct, we have to talk about a planet candidate," he says. "This shows that there is still much to discover in the universe and that even in our stellar neighborhood there are still many things that we don't know, "Rodríguez-López concludes.
. (tagsToTranslate) Astronomy (t) Science (t) Planets