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An Earth-mass planet orbiting α Centauri B

X. Dumusque, F. Pepe, C. Lovis, D. Sťgransan, J. Sahlmann, W. Benz, F. Bouchy, M. Mayor, D. Queloz, N. C. Santos, S. Udry

Exoplanets down to the size of Earth have been found, but not in the habitable zone—that is, at a distance fromthe parent star at which water, if present, would be liquid. There are planets in the habitable zone of stars cooler than our Sun, but for reasons such as tidal locking and strong stellar activity, they are unlikely to harbour water–carbon life as we know it. The detection of a habitable Earth-mass planet orbiting a star similar to our Sun is extremely difficult, because such a signal is overwhelmed by stellar perturbations. Here we report the detection of an Earth-mass planet orbiting our neighbour star α Centauri B, a member of the closest stellar system to the Sun. The planet has an orbital period of 3.236 days and is about 0.04 astronomical units from the star (one astronomical unit is the Earth–Sun distance).

Volume 491, Number 7423, Page 207
2012 November

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Instituto de Astrof√≠sica e Ci√™ncias do Espa√ßo Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Funda√ß√£o para a Ci√™ncia e a Tecnologia
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