Astronomers failed to confirm the existence of the second planet from Proxima Centauri

Astronomers announced interim results of a four-year review of SHINE held on the VLT telescope, which conducted the second search of extrasolar planets the nearest star to the Sun Proxima Centauri. They found an object that fits the role of candidate exoplanets, however, to establish whether he is indeed an exoplanet, needs new complex observations. If the discovery is confirmed, it will be the first direct observation of exoplanets discovered through the radial velocity method. A Preprint of the article published on the website arXiv.org.

Red dwarf Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to the Sun, its distance estimated at 4.24 light years away. In 2016, the astronomers found exoplanets around her Proximo b, which is located in the habitable zone of its star and is considered the closest to the Solar system exoplanet. In 2019, it was shown the possibility of the existence of the star of the second, larger planet Proxima C, which may be super-earths (minimum mass estimate is 5.8 Earth masses) and is located farther from the star than Proxima b (estimate of the orbital period of the earth is 1900 days, and the semimajor axis of the orbit of 1.48 astronomical units).

A team of astronomers led by Raphael Gratton (Gratton Raffaelle) of the Astronomical Observatory of Padua reported on the results of a four-year search of Proxima from using the receiver’s SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument) mounted on the telescope VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile. This tool is able to obtain direct images of exoplanets around other stars, scientists hoped to find new images that can be regarded as a background object, but as a visible candidate exoplanets, which would move in a previously calculated orbit.

The results were as follows. Astronomers can’t say that really found Proxima S. there is a most interesting candidate, for which the ratio signal/noise = 6,1, and the location of the candidate images and the orientation of its orbital plane is well consistent with observations of the radio telescope ALMA. If the discovery is confirmed, it will be the first direct observation of exoplanets discovered through the radial velocity method. However, there is a discrepancy in the astrometric data, in addition, the detected object is bright enough that can be interpreted as the accumulation of highly reflective material, e.g. a system of dust rings, or the result of a collision of the inner satellites of extrasolar planets, which is rather unusual.

There is also the likelihood that astronomers have discovered a previously unknown background object. Finally confirm or deny the existence of the second extrasolar planets at Proxima Centauri have some new observations in the millimeter, infrared and optical wavelengths with ground-based telescopes.

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