Have you ever wondered what would happen to mankind when an apocalypse suddenly strikes and this planet becomes uninhabitable? With all the news about global warming, (possible) zombie outbreaks, or another meteor capable of wiping out all the living things from the face of the planet (much like what happened to dinosaurs), we’re not that far from total annihilation.
And because human instinct tells us that the entire race must survive, we are constantly looking for ways or back-up plans to keep our civilization going.
Scientists and astronomers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have just discovered what appears to be a “second Earth.”
It’s the kind of stuff you’ll see in sci-fi movies, such as Interstellar, where the human race goes on an unending quest to find a planet similar to Earth.
The planet, known as Proxima B, revolves around Proxima Centauri which is a red dwarf (or a smaller and dimmer sun). This means that the planet is nearer to its host star, only 4.7 million miles (7.5 million kilometers). Because the light it emits is not as bright as the Earth’s Sun, the planet needs to orbit at a closer distance.
The newfound planet only takes 11 days to orbit the parent star. That means Proxima B orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to our Sun. This perfect distance makes the planet habitable meaning liquid water could be stable and exist on its surface.
Here's an artist rendering of Proxima B's landscape:
Research about the planet took around 15 years, starting on March 2000.
“Succeeding in the search for the nearest terrestrial planet beyond our Solar System has been an experience of a lifetime, and has drawn on the dedication and passion of a number of international researchers. We hope these findings inspire future generations to keep looking beyond the stars. The search for life on Proxima B comes next," said lead author of the project, Dr. Guillem Anglada-Escudé.
It's relatively closeness to us, just 4.24 light years away, also contributes to that assumption that it could be the best candidate for possible relocation. Although our current technology is still not enough to explore the planet, it will most likely be the first destination for future long-distance space probes.
If you want a better view of Proxima B, here is a short video to show you what it looks like: