Discovering a new planet means higher chances of finding the extraterrestrial life that we’re all hoping for. However, scientists estimate that most planets in the Universe are complete wastelands where no organisms can survive. But until we can be completely sure, we are free to hope that there’s life pretty much everywhere in the Cosmos.
The Guardian now writes about a new discovery that puzzles astronomers: a bright speck observed using the Very Large Telescope, the gear operated by the European Southern Observatory. The speck could be just a technical glitch, an asteroid, or even an entire newfound planet that’s located practically ‘next-door’ to us at an astronomical scale.
Newfound planet in Alpha Centauri?
Alpha Centauri is the closest solar system to ours, and it’s also the location of the possible new planet found by astronomers. More precisely, the bright dot was found near Alpha Centauri A, meaning one of a pair of stars from the system that revolve around each other. Further studies are needed to confirm if the speck is a newfound planet or not.
Pete Klupar, who is the chief engineer of the Breakthrough Initiatives, declared:
We detected something,
It could be an artefact in the machine or it could be a planet, or it could be asteroids or dust.
Observations of the neighboring star were part of the ‘New Earths in the Alpha Centauri Region’ experiment that was backed by Breakthrough Watch.
There is still an enormous number of exoplanets discovered until now: over 4,000. While for the vastness of the Universe, the number means practically nothing, as there are likely a lot more exoplanets out there, it still means a lot considering that the first exoplanet was discovered less than three decades ago: the one orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12.
The Alpha Centauri star system is located about 4.36 light-years away from Earth.