[R]umor has it that there’s a possible “Earth 2.0” orbiting Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star that’s right on our cosmic doorstep. Located only 4.25 light-years away, Proxima is believed to be gravitationally bound to the binary star system Alpha Centauri, a system that has also undergone much scrutiny for its exoplanet potential.
To have an exoplanet with any Earth-like qualities so close to the solar system would be an incredible stroke of luck, considering that the most Earth-like exoplanet discovered so far is Kepler-452b, which was announced last year to much fanfare. The kicker is that this alien world is 1,400 light-years away. Barring any huge science fiction-esque strides in interstellar propulsion, it’s highly unlikely that such a distant world will get a whiff of humanity any time soon.
But a hypothetical planet orbiting a star only 4.25 light-years away? That doesn’t sound so bad.
What’s more, if (and that’s a big IF) there is an exoplanet with a few Earth-like qualities orbiting Proxima Centauri, its existence could transform the way we look at the stars. We might start to see interstellar space as a challenge we can aspire to physically explore rather than the impenetrable void it currently is.