Fr.: Proxima b
An → extrasolar planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor → Proxima Centauri. The planet was detected through a long-term → radial velocity campaign and found to have an → orbital period of ~ 11.2 days, a → semi-major axis of ~ 0.05 → astronomical units (20 times closer to Proxima than the Earth is to the Sun), and a minimum mass 1.3 → Earth masses (M sin i = 1.3 M_Earth), i.e. ~ 30% larger than the Earth (Anglada-Escudé et al. 2016, Nature 536, 437). The planet's surface temperature should allow it to support liquid water, and its mass suggests that it might have a rocky surface. With a semi-major axis of ~ 0.05 AU, it lies in the center of the classical habitable zone for Proxima. However, Proxima Centauri is a → flare star and the → X-ray flux received by the planet is 400 times greater than the flux that Earth receives from the Sun. Energetic particles associated with the flares may erode the atmosphere or hinder the development of primitive forms of life. It is also not known whether the → exoplanet has a magnetic field, like Earth, which could shield it from the dangerous stellar radiation.