The closest stellar system to the Earth is Proxima Centauri. After a couple of observations, scientists declared in 2016 that they discovered there another Earth-like exoplanet. It is the closest exoplanet to Earth. Apart from the fact that Proxima b is the size of our planet, it is also situated in the habitable zone.
When utilizing the Radial Velocity Method, the scientists managed to determine the existence of a second exoplanet, a super-Earth, located in the vicinity of Proxima Centauri. What is interesting about this planet is that it seems to have a system of rings around its equator, bearing a striking resemblance to Saturn.
The study was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and the data was obtained when utilizing the Spectro-Poliametric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (SPHERE). It is a very adaptable instrument, part of the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, whose ability is to detect the optical and near-infrared wavelengths.
A Huge Set of Rings Surrounds The New Exoplanet Found in Proxima Centauri System
The telescope has determined the existence of protoplanetary disks for the past years, being highly reliable for its high contrast and the different angular resolution. The primary goal of this survey was to determine the formation and evolution of new planetary systems. Therefore, researchers have opted for Proxima Centauri being located at just 4.25 light-years away from our solar system.
At the time of the research, the analysts managed to discover the Proxima c while utilizing the Radial Velocity method. This method is studying the back and forth movements of a star, which determines whether the planet is being influenced by gravitational forces by the system of planets.
The study revealed that Proxima c presents an unprecedented quantity of apparent brightness for a planet that orbits around a dwarf star.
For this reason, the researchers doubted whether their observations were indeed the images of Proxima c. However, they managed to discover that the brightness of the exoplanet was determined by a system of rings called a circumplanetary material.