The Best Candidate
Now, it could be a bit more manageable.
A report from German weekly Der Spiegel claims (although citing anonymous sources) that European astronomers have found a new Earth-like planet that is just near our home planet. The planet (still unnamed) was discovered to be orbiting Proxima Centauri — the closest star to our Solar System — and within the habitable zone that could allow the planet to hold liquid water on its surface.
So Near, Yet So Far
Proxima Centauri is part of the Alpha Centauri system, which is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System, with a distance of about 4.35 light-years away.
But even though the planet was reported to be spotted “so close by,” it’s still too far for our modern technology to reach. Take note: One light-year is the distance light travels in one year, and light travels at about 300,000 km (186,000 mi) per second
But then again, the universe is a vast space. Studying an exoplanet within the vicinity of our neighbor star is probably the best shot we can ever get to finding life outside the Earth.
Der Spiegel was rather thrifty on details about the discovery but said that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will announce the finding at the end of the month.
However, although aware of the magazine’s report, ESO spokesman Richard Hook neither confirmed nor denied it.