Proxima has dust belt, likely outer comet belt and possibly other exoplanets

Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun, is known to host at least one terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit. Here the European Space Agency reports the ALMA detection of the star at 1.3 mm wavelength and the discovery of a belt of dust orbiting around it at distances ranging between 1 and 4 au, approximately. Given the low luminosity of the Proxima Centauri star, they estimate a characteristic temperature of about 40 K for this dust, which might constitute the dust component of a small-scale analog to our solar system Kuiper belt.

The estimated total mass, including dust and bodies up to 50 km in size, is of the order of 0.01 Earth masses, which is similar to that of the solar Kuiper belt. Our data also show a hint of warmer dust closer to the star. They also find signs of two additional features that might be associated with the Proxima Centauri system, which, however, still require further observations to be confirmed: an outer extremely cold (about 10 K) belt around the star at about 30 au, whose orbital plane is tilted about 45 degrees with respect to the plane of the sky; and additionally, they marginally detect a compact 1.3 mm emission source at a projected distance of about 1.2 arcsec from the star, whose nature is still unknown.

In 2016, astronomers discovered that an exoplanet roughly the size of Earth orbits around Proxima Centauri in its habitable zone.

The multiple dust belts and comet belt suggests that there could be more exoplanets for clearing out the dust and comets from the gaps between the belts.

1 thought on “Proxima has dust belt, likely outer comet belt and possibly other exoplanets”

  1. Seems to me that according to theories, planets should seldom be alone, given they are born from a multitude of pebbles and smaller bodies across big swaths of the space encircling a star.

    There must be several bodies of different sizes after this process settles down.

    Therefore any star with planets ought to have several of them, plus asteroids, comets and such. We simply can’t see the smaller ones.

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