A tiny alien world orbiting the stellar neighbour of the Solar System has been discovered by astronomers.

Termed as an exoplanet (planets outside the Solar System), Proxima d was found to be orbiting a red-dwarf star called ‘Proxima Centauri’ at a distance from the Sun approximately 4.2 light years.

Speaking on behalf of the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço in Portugal, astrophysicist João Faria opined that there were variety of worlds to be studied.

“The discovery shows that our closest stellar neighbor seems to be packed with interesting new worlds, within reach of further study and future exploration,” he said.

Proxima d discovery also adds to recent findings on a number of planets currently orbiting the Proxima Centauri. Howbeit, it won’t be able to support life until further research is done.

Historical count now puts the total number of exoplanets at about 5,000 with even more yet to be discovered by space experts.

According to planetary studies, major ways of finding exoplanets are through the transit method and the radial velocity method.

The transit method entails observation of stars for a very long period using a telescope; while the radial velocity method involves sorting for Doppler shifts which infer an exoplanet presence.

For the recently discovered Proxima d, clues of its presence had surfaced in 2020 when astronomers tried to confirm another Proxima Centauri exoplanet using the Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

Pedro Figueira – an ESPRESSO scientist also spoke on the radial velocity method, adding the importance hosting life on planets discovered.

“This achievement is extremely important.

“It shows that the radial velocity technique has the potential to unveil a population of light planets, like our own, that are expected to be the most abundant in our galaxy and that can potentially host life as we know it,” he stated.

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