Earth-like Planet
Earth-like planet orbiting a star in Alpha Centuri system, which is very close to our solar system. Credit ESO

Scientists from the European Southern Observatory have discovered an earth-like planet very close to our solar system.

The newly discovered planet is orbiting Alpha Centauri B, a star in the Alpha Centauri system, which is located very close to our solar system. Alpha Centauri system has two star- Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. The Alpha Centauri system is only 4.3 light-years away from our solar system.

It was discovered while analysing the data obtained from the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile.

The analysis revealed that the newly discovered planet is orbiting about six million kilometres away from the star, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun in the Solar System. The planet mass is little bit more than our planet Earth's mass.

"This is the first planet with a mass similar to Earth ever found around a star like the Sun. Its orbit is very close to its star and it must be much too hot for life as we know it but it may well be just one planet in a system of several. Our other HARPS results, and new findings from Kepler, both show clearly that the majority of low-mass planets are found in such systems," said Stéphane Udry, researcher at the Geneva Observatory.

"Our observations extended over more than four years using the HARPS instrument and have revealed a tiny, but real, signal from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days," said Xavier Dumusque, researcher at the Universidade do Porto.

"It's an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!"

"This result represents a major step towards the detection of a twin Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun. We live in exciting times!" concludes Xavier Dumusque.