Is It Possible…for Two Planets to Look Alike?

September 11, 2016

Kind of…it’s a trick question, but don’t be mad at us because the explanation is really cool! Astronomers discovered a planet in a neighboring solar system named Proxima b. What’s interesting about this planet is that it resembles Earth: it’s about the same size, is rocky, and might just contain liquid water which means life outside of our solar system might just be possible! Cool, right? Scientists have actually known about this planet for over 100 years but it wasn’t until recently that the rest of the world knew about it. But who has actually seen it? No one. Then how do scientists know it exists, you might wonder? Well, a red dwarf star orbits around Proxima b and the gravitational pull of Proxima b causes the star to “wiggle” — something scientists can see. That “wiggle” effect is proof that there is a planet.

What else is interesting about Proxima b? Scientists would love to study the planet up close, but it would take even the fastest rocket approximately 80,000 years to travel to where it is now. And upon arrival, Proxima b would have moved even further away. Sneaky little planet!