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Nearest exoplanet to Earth may be a ghost world

发布时间:2017-05-26 04:01:11来源:未知点击:

THERE goes the neighbourhood. Last year astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-mass planet just 4.3 light years away in the nearby Alpha Centauri system. Now a second look suggests the planet may not be there after all. Xavier Dumusque of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland and colleagues identified the planet, known as Alpha Centauri Bb, from a slight wobble in the position of Alpha Centauri B, the smaller of the two stars in the system. But Artie Hatzes of the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, begs to differ. “This just doesn’t smell like a solid discovery,” he says, though he is happy to be proved wrong. His alternative analysis of the data suggests Bb might not exist (arxiv.org/abs/1305.4960). Dumusque, now at Harvard University, says it is always worth reanalysing planetary detections. His team is gathering more data and is also trying to detect Bb by looking for a dip in light as it moves in front of its star. Space outreach company Uwingu has already staged a contest to name Alpha Centauri Bb, to the ire of the International Astronomical Union, which says it was run without its permission. This article appeared in print under the headline “Ephemeral planet” More on these topics: