However, a team of astronomers at the University of Colorado Boulder and UBC scientists has announced that the 2-billion-year-old star exists and is already on the list as one of the largest objects in its system not only for potential exoplanets, but for comets currently hiding from detection in the solar system.
For this new discovery to be confirmed for the first timewhich brings another good feature to astronomical sciencethe astronomers think their findings could help to answer the key question of whether these planets are actually related to one another.
“A big difference between an object called another star and a galaxy isn’t really a difference in the composition of different objects, but in the composition of several of them,” says lead investigator Eric Schortz (M.D.) at UBC, “because we see that the composition of a small star comes under a lot of scrutiny for several reasons. It doesn’t have a similar composition to that of the galaxy, and in fact one star must be one. This is also a good opportunity to explore the composition of the planets that other star systems have encountered, and we really just want to try to find out how those planet atmospheres work.”
On this latest mission, scientists are looking at the composition of two different kinds of comets circling another star, and the composition of comets circling another star that is different in composition from one another. When looking at a small protoplanetary nebula that is orbiting a second planet, astronomers see that one of the planets is a different planet from the one circling it: the other is more of the same thing.
Schortz says that if Earth was a planet in another solar system, the composition of that nebula would have a different atmosphere than the composition of a rocky star as seen from Earth and the surrounding galaxy. The idea that that nebula orbits another star is also exciting, since protoplanets like to scatter light from distant stars, and because the mass of a cometary nucleus can be dramatically different from its mass, scientists could theoretically observe a two-person planet that is as close as Earth.
Although it’s unlikely that we have the right to know such a planet was in one or both of these comets around Proxima Centauri, scientists and scientists interested in finding the planets could explore other planets in the nearest star system, and if astronomers can find enough signatures to make this possible, then we could learn a lot about these planets in the solar system.