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August 24 2016

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The exoplanet next door - nature video

Astronomers have discovered evidence of a small, rocky planet orbiting our nearest star – and it may even be a bit like Earth. Nobody knows whether the planet, called Proxima b, could ever sustain life. The little planet orbits our sun’s nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, making it the closest exoplanet ever found.

Read the paper here
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ESOcast 87: Pale Red Dot Results

This is the ESOcast that no viewer will want to miss. We discuss the result of the quest to find a planet around the closest star to the Solar System.

The Pale Red Dot campaign aimed to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and the team did indeed find a planet. Even more excitingly, the planet, Proxima b, falls within the habitable zone of its host star. The newly discovered Proxima b is by far the closest potential abode for alien life.

In this ESOcast, the results of this groundbreaking research are explained in detail, providing insights into the following points:

* The extensive verification process the team went through to ensure this result was accurate.
* The factors for and against the possibility of life on Proxima b.
* The nature of a “habitable zone” around a star.

The discovery of Proxima b is a major science result, making this ESOcast a must for those of you curious about one of the most intriguing questions in astronomy — “are we alone?”
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Caution: Rocket crossing :)
(JCSAT-16 first stage on the refurbished Space Shuttle transporter)

August 23 2016

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