A new planet has been discovered in our closest planetary system.
It’s only 25% the mass of Earth and likely isn’t habitable.
The new planet is the third planet that’s been found in its planetary system.
It’s called Proxima d and its neigboring planets are called Proxima b and Proxima c.
Proxima b was first spotted in 2016 and finally confirmed in 2020.
The discovery of Proxima d could indicate that there are many more planets to be found in that region.
We could be looking at a system similar to our own solar system.
The planets orbit a star called Proxima Centauri.
That’s the closest star to our sun.
It’s four light years away, which isn’t that far as exoplanets go.
This distance means the planet is a possible candidate for future exploration.
João Faria, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, said: “The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbour seems to be packed with interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration.”
A planet outside our solar system is called an exoplanet and scientists hunt for them all the time.
A big aim of this is to find a planet similar to our own.
Some researchers think a similar planetary discovery could help us find alien life.
The new exoplanet doesn’t look like it could support life, though.
It’s said to orbit too close to its star for liquid water to be present.
The planet is also so close to its star that a year there is technically five days on Earth.
Scientists used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) in Chile to make the discovery.
ESO scientist Pedro Figueira said: “This achievement is extremely important.
“It shows that the radial velocity technique has the potential to unveil a population of light planets, like our own, that are expected to be the most abundant in our galaxy and that can potentially host life as we know it.”
This story originally appeared on the Sun and was reproduced here with permission.