Proxima Centauri b

Artist’s impression of the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Yesterday it was officially announced that a probably rocka planet in the habitable zone was detected around our nearest star Proxima Centauri (nature paper). This is a new milestone for planet hunters. Although we already knew that most stars will host planets, it is very assuring to know that one potentially habitable planet is in our closest neighbourhood.

Unfortunatly it seems this planet is not a transiting planet. Otherwise we could start immediatly to analyse its atmosphere with transmission spectroscopy. As it is not transiting we can use phase curves and Direct imaging to analyse the planet in more detail. For phasecurves we will need spaceborn telescopes, and i bet JWST will look at this planet in more detail once it is operational. For direct imaging we are far away from observing such targets, as it is very close to its host star. With the E-ELT we expect to image planets as close as 1 AU, but this planet is at 0.05AU, so there is some moreĀ  developement to be done.

I gave in the last days two interviews to this discovery in german newspapers, you can find the articles here, and here.