The latest alien planet discovery looks like it could be an Earth-sized one orbiting Alpha Centauri B. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise as the discovery of new exoplanets over the last few years now runs into thousands. This latest discovery is cool for a couple of reasons though.
First, it’s orbiting one of the closest stars to us, Alpha Centauri B is just 4.3 light years away – close neighbors by astronomical distances. And secondly, it’s very close to the size of the Earth.
At the moment there is still some doubt over whether the discovery is a genuine signal or not, though the evidence is reasonably good and certainly fits in with our other exoplanet knowledge. If it is confirmed, the planet is certainly not hospitable and likely has a molten surface.
Of course, that isn’t necessarily the end of the story as we already know of several stars that have planetary systems with multiple planets. The interesting possibility here is that other planets exist around Alpha Centauri B that may well be in the “Goldilocks zone” suitable for life to develop.
Although speculative right now it could be confirmed fairly soon. Beyond that the next generation of telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could actually image these planets directly. And naturally there’s always the slim possibility that such planets could bear life!