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Welcome to Proxima b, Our Nearest ‘Earth-like’ Neighbor


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The historic discovery of a small rocky world orbiting our sun’s nearest stellar neighbor could transform humanity’s interstellar future — but what does this alien world look like?

Astronomers of the Pale Red Dot campaign — a project searching for hints of an alien world around our sun’s nearest stellar neighbor — have done it. They’ve not only discovered an exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, they’ve discovered a world orbiting within the star’s habitable zone. The habitable zone is the distance from any star at which it’s not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on a hypothetically rocky world.

Now we know there’s a rocky world inside Proxima’s habitable zone, raising the question as to whether alien life may thrive there or if it could be our future interstellar target. But what does Proxima b look like? Here are some ideas: