Proxima Centauri b (also called Proxima b) is an exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun. It is located about 4.2 light-years (1.3 parsecs, 40 trillion km, or 25 trillion miles) from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus. It is the closest known exoplanet to the Solar System and the closest potentially habitable exoplanet known.
In August 2016, the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of the planet. Shortly after the discovery, researchers investigating the habitable potential of Proxima b suggested that the exoplanet may be the nearest possible location for life beyond our solar system. Researchers think that its proximity to Earth offers an opportunity for possible robotic exploration of the planet “in the coming centuries”.
This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.
Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser