How far away is Proxima b, could we reach the potential Earth 2?

The European Southern Observatory has been searching for planets orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system for years. It has been checking observations since January this year in the hope of confirming their belief that they had found a pale red dot to match our pale blue dot.

The confirmation was made on 24 August confirming not only that Proxima b was a planet but the incredible news that it was a candidate for sustaining life, because conditions allowed for liquid water to exist on the planet.

It is a little larger than Earth but is much closer to its sun and completes a “year” in just 11 days. While the size and temperature of the planet may allow humans to survive, the star X-rays may rule it. Another implication of its distance from its sun is that it, like the moon will always have the same side facing the sun.

Planets have been found orbiting much further away, and so finding one that appears habitable and just happens to be at the next closest star would be great news. However 4,2 light years despite being close in space terms, represents something humans have yet to achieve.

There are 9 trillion kilometres in a light year. When Voyager took a photo of Earth in 1990, all that could be seen was a pale blue dot (hence pale red dot). Voyager had been travelling for 13 years already then. It has now left our solar system and is one of the fastest travelling man made objects.

How long would it take to get to Proxima Centauri?

The infographic below indicates that while we are so very close in space terms, our potential Earth 2.0 is as far away as humanity has had a history on Earth.

Despite being so close, we will need significant improvements to enable interstellar travel. At least now we have a direction to aim at.

A South African connection to the discovery is that Proxima Centauri, when discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes, was first observed using the telescope in Observatory, Cape Town.

Read More
How long before we have a Universal Income Grant?

How long before we have a Universal Income Grant?

The latest test of a 200 years old idea is underway. Should governments give all citizens a basic income?

3 Business Unusual predictions for 2017

3 Business Unusual predictions for 2017

How speech, hacking and blockchain will generate lots of news this year.

Google and YouTube most popular of 2016

Google and YouTube most popular of 2016

The most searched for terms on Google and buzz-creating videos on YouTube in 2016.

Our festive season line-up

Our festive season line-up

We will reflect a more festive time on air for the next few weeks and here are the presenters that will be hosting our festive line-up.

Word of the year 2016

Word of the year 2016

Each year the world's wordsmiths list the new and most popular words in the English language.

What a three-way Olympic swimming tie says about our strange measuring system

What a three-way Olympic swimming tie says about our strange measuring system

The metric system defines the world around us, but those definitions are not what you think they are.

Popular articles
Brother of man who died in Kuga opens up on air, discusses lawsuit against Ford

Brother of man who died in Kuga opens up on air, discusses lawsuit against Ford

John Maytham interviews Kaveen Jimmy; who says he has damning evidence against Ford.

Madonsela warns against appointing woman President as a proxy

Madonsela warns against appointing woman President as a proxy

Former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela addressed the Cape Town Press Club on a number of issues.

LISTEN: Mbete denies pronouncing her availability for Presidency

LISTEN: Mbete denies pronouncing her availability for Presidency

ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete says reports alleging she has agreed to run for the Presidency are full of distortions.

'My daughter bought Spur shares when she was 10 years old' - Dr Adrian Saville

'My daughter bought Spur shares when she was 10 years old' - Dr Adrian Saville

What does Citadel’s famed disciple of contrarian, deep-value investing Dr Adrian Saville hope for (and fear) about money?

'I apologise to our customers for the inconvenience' - Ford SA CEO Jeff Nemeth

'I apologise to our customers for the inconvenience' - Ford SA CEO Jeff Nemeth

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Ford South Africa CEO Jeff Nemeth.

‘3 richest South Africans have wealth equal to the poorest 28 million’ – Oxfam

‘3 richest South Africans have wealth equal to the poorest 28 million’ – Oxfam

The Free Market Foundation's Leon Louw, however, calls Oxfam "OxScam" and says the organisation does not care about poor people.

Lumka Oliphant sorry for insulting women while defending Minister

Lumka Oliphant sorry for insulting women while defending Minister

Minister Bathabile Dlamini's spokesperson says people should stop spreading lies that minister drinks alcohol.

Terror expert warns that SA could be a target in 2017

Terror expert warns that SA could be a target in 2017

Sunday Times reported that a Islamic State bomb maker was arrested as he was about to board a flight to Johannesburg.