Drop Everything and Start Packing: There's a New Planet in Town
Scientists with the European Southern Observatory made a major discovery last year that left them both excited and curious about its implications about extraterrestrial life. In a study published by the journal Nature, the ESO researchers found a shockingly Earth-like planet orbiting the star closest to the Earth's solar system.
Currently named Proxima b, the planet is about the same size as Earth — approximately 1.3 sizes larger — and seems to have liquid water among a mostly rocky terrain. The find is not only incredible because of its similarity to Earth, but also the fact that it's near the star, Proxima Centauri, closest to our sun. Scientists have yet to determine whether or not the planet has an atmosphere, which would be crucial for life to survive there.
To better observe Proxima b, scientists would need to take a picture of the planet and analyze its molecules. Unfortunately, such technology doesn't exist . . . yet.