It’s the planet we have all been waiting for. A planet that is rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system, scientists have reported. Well, the planet’s real, but this alien world is probably far from homely. After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door.
The planet is probably in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone where liquid water — a key to life — is possible, if the planet has an atmosphere. And it is a mere 4.22 light-years from Earth, or nearly 40 trillion kilometres (25 trillion miles). The planet is of a similar mass to Earth, and temperate – all conditions that are promising for life. But Proxima b isn’t a second Earth.