Excerpted from The Sun: ASTRONOMERS are preparing to announce the discovery of a potentially habitable second Earth orbiting a nearby star, it has been claimed.
Last month, sources leaked news that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) had spotted an alien world orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest stellar neighbour.
An anonymous source from the ESO told German publication Der Spiegel the discovery is the closest habitable planet to Earth, which means we could reach it within our lifetime.
But the astonishing finding was not officially announced, sparking furious speculation that the second Earth has deliberately been kept a secret.
Now the ESO is set to finally reveal details of the planet at a press conference tomorrow and astronomers are also likely to discuss whether it has the potential to support life.
“The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface — an important requirement for the emergence of life,” the source said.
“Never before have scientists discovered a second Earth that is so close by.”
There have been 216 Earth-like located within the Goldilocks Zone — the region around a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might support water.
The problem is that while most of these Earth-like planets are habitable, they are located thousands of light years away, which means they are out of our reach.
If the findings are correct, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s search for intelligent life could focus on heading to the planet.
As part of Milner’s plans, Project Starshot intends to send a laser-sail driven-nanocraft to Alpha Centauri — the closest star system to the Solar System — in the coming years.
With the craft able to travel up to 20 per cent of the speed of light, if Project Starshot was to rethink its objective, it would be able to reach the Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri in less than 20 years. Keep reading