back to article 'Second Earth' exoplanet found right under our noses – just four light years away

Rumours that a terrestrial planet orbiting Proxima Centauri – the Sun’s closest neighbour – may be Earth-like have been confirmed today in a paper published in Nature. The possibility that extraterrestrial life may exist next door was first reported last week in Der Spiegel, a German weekly news magazine. Excitement bubbled …

  1. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    Ok to go.

    Ok to go. I'm OK to GO.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ok to go.

      It takes light 4 years to get there. It will take you 80,000 years.

      1. vir

        Re: Ok to go.

        Just freeze your head and tape a 6-pack of beer to it, then launch it over there. I'm sure they'll have everything sorted by the time it arrives.

      2. Elf
        Alien

        Re: Ok to go.

        Best we bloody well get started then, innit?

      3. Brian Allan 1

        Re: Ok to go.

        10-15% the speed of light equates to about 25-40 years of travel...

    2. matchbx
      Facepalm

      Re: Ok to go.

      I don't think they got the reference....

      1. Graham Marsden
        Coat

        Re: Ok to go.

        > I don't think they got the reference....

        It was probably too Vega for it them to make Contact with. Maybe we should send a poet?

    3. Andy france Bronze badge

      Re: Ok to go.

      Yeah but don't expect it to be fun. Getting you up to 20% of the speed of light is going to be challenging. Then it's going to take you 20-25 years to get there. And when you arrive you will still be doing 0.2c with no way of decelerating (other than a somewhat cataclysmic impact). So you will zip past at a speed that would take you from earth to the sun in 40 minutes. I can't help but feel that would be a bit of an anticlimax. After that (unless you have opted for the impact) it all gets a bit grim.

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Ok to go.

      > Ok to go. I'm OK to GO.

      It always sounded suspiciously like hot sex words to me.

      Maybe that's what interstellar travel is all about, too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lets all just die on this ball

    Homo sapiens are dreadful

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: lets all just die on this ball

      Go right ahead and die where you like, while the rest of us with any imagination will gaze at the Universe with awe and wonder what it's like out there and how to go and see it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets all just die on this ball

      Redundant pessimism AC?

      I'm inclined to believe we'll have wiped ourselves out, one way or another, long before we're able to successfully infect other planets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Mushroom

        Re: lets all just die on this ball

        Considering the current inclinations of the great Yank electorate, I reckon it's touch-and-go that we'll make it to Christmas.

        (Why's it always Yanks about to get us all obliterated? Something should be done)

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: lets all just die on this ball

          "Why's it always Yanks". Perhaps we should have stayed in Europe.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: lets all just die on this ball

            We could bring our Yank troops and ships back from Europe, but we'd only have to go back again in even larger numbers in 15-20 years.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: lets all just die on this ball

              > We could bring our Yank troops and ships back from Europe, but we'd only have to go back again in even larger numbers in 15-20 years.

              So, expect war in Europe in 10-15 years followed a good deal later by the arrival over here of the "overdecorated, overstaffed, overmaintenanced and overbearing".

            2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

              Re: lets all just die on this ball

              Please do leave Europe. It's time the training wheels were removed.

              BTW, this was your one good war. Don't get cocky -- you haven't done too well since.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: lets all just die on this ball

                >BTW, this was your one good war.

                Curious use of "good."

                It was a (typical) US racketeering exercise: They skulked on the sidelines, supplying the Nazis with arms and munitions, until the Empire had bankrupted itself winning the war despite them, then swaggered in right at the end, at enormous cost to everyone else, to rape their way across Europe and help themselves to the spoils.

        2. TheTick

          Re: lets all just die on this ball

          "Considering the current inclinations of the great Yank electorate, I reckon it's touch-and-go that we'll make it to Christmas."

          That's right - *Hillary* leading in the polls what the hell are they thinking...

          1. Afernie
            Facepalm

            Re: lets all just die on this ball

            "That's right - *Hillary* leading in the polls what the hell are they thinking..."

            They're probably thinking "should I vote for the personality-free, mildly corrupt bureaucrat for four more years of the same, or should I vote for the incredibly corrupt, rampantly xenophobic organised crime-connected business failure with a sociopathic personality disorder, a staggering ignorance of just about everything, and a itch to push the nuclear button?"

            It's a tough call I know.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Every time someone prefers Hillarycon, Harambe has to die again!

              They're probably thinking "should I vote for the personality-free, mildly corrupt bureaucrat for four more years of the same

              I'm sorry, that's an Eichmann-level type of bureaucrat. Banality of evil and all that (which Hillary has publicly sworn to eradicate, imagine that)

              Another 4 years of Bushbama WILL kill us, as Russia and China are next.

              1. Afernie
                Thumb Down

                Re: Every time someone prefers Hillarycon, Harambe has to die again!

                "I'm sorry, that's an Eichmann-level type of bureaucrat. Banality of evil and all that (which Hillary has publicly sworn to eradicate, imagine that)"

                Powering up the Godwiniser already, eh?

                1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
                  Big Brother

                  Re: Every time someone prefers Hillarycon, Harambe has to die again!

                  Powering up the Godwiniser already, eh?

                  Oh yeah you think?

                  Not even talking hypothetically.

                  Wrecking a few countries and being onboard for wrecking a few countries using rank propaganda and crying liberals from the safety of the desk, then cackling about it on TV?

                  I don't know what you need then.

                  People have been hanging from rafters for far, far less.

                  As for the "mildly corrupt bureaucrat" .. HA HA!

                  1. ZippedyDooDah

                    Re: Every time someone prefers Hillarycon, Harambe has to die again!

                    I assume that you're on the other side of the pond. Here in the UK, the media is almost as bad as over there.

                    The BBC continually support Hitlery and constantly join in the ridiculing of Thump. In a similar fashion to their bias about the Brexit campaign.

    3. pyite

      Re: lets all just die on this ball

      That's OK...

      By the time we are ready to travel to another planet we will have evolved into a new species so no more Homo Sapiens.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets all just die on this ball

      Homo sapiens are dreadful

      Check your privilege!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Green? Blue? Brown?

    "A spacecraft equipped with a camera and various filters could take color images of the planet and infer whether it is green (harboring life as we know it), blue (with water oceans on its surface) or just brown (dry rock),"

    Proxima Centauri really only produces red light, so any Chlorophyll is going to look pretty black, and for the same reasons, any oceans won't look blue; it's mostly going to look either red, or red & black (if there's anything, such as Chlorophyll, absorbing any of that red light).

    It'll really need spectroscopy to find out anything.

    1. Darryl
      Facepalm

      Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

      You obviously have to use the flash when you take the picture

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        I don't think that would go down very well if there are any inhabitants.

      2. Dr Spork
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        >You obviously have to use the flash when you take the picture

        What would the Guide Number be on that?

        Our resident expert on all things paparazzi might know --->

    2. Stoke the atom furnaces

      Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

      Wouldn't a blue ocean also require an oxygen atmosphere for the same reasons the sky and oceans of the Earth are blue?

      1. TitterYeNot

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        "Wouldn't a blue ocean also require an oxygen atmosphere for the same reasons the sky and oceans of the Earth are blue?"

        No, I don't think that's correct. Water looks blue whether you're in it or above it because it absorbs blue wavelengths less than red and green. The sky looks blue from the earth's surface because the atmosphere scatters blue much more than other wavelengths (Rayleigh scattering.) Red light tends to pass straight through it, hence the 'blood red' moon of a lunar eclipse, or the ruddy glow of a sunset when the sun is low on the horizen.

    3. illiad

      Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

      you are forgetting the high levels of X-rays given off by the sun...

      "If there are lifeforms on Proxima b - even simple microbes - they may find the going rather tough, however.

      Red dwarfs are very active. They tend to throw out big flares that would bombard a nearby planet with energetic particles. The X-ray emission is much more intense as well."

      from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37167390

      1. marioaieie

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        And I raise with the original paper*:

        "Although Proxima is considered a moderately active star, its rotation period is about 83 days (ref. 3) and its quiescent activity levels and X-ray luminosity are comparable to those of the Sun."

        *That is from the abstract, so it is accessible from outside the paywall. And there's a reference which should be also accessible

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        "Red dwarfs are very active. "

        Really? I thought it was all about slobbing about and eating curry for breakfast.

        The one with the 14B chicken soup dispenser nozzle cleaner in the pocket. ---->

    4. Wilseus

      Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

      "Proxima Centauri really only produces red light"

      No. I keep hearing this and it is totally incorrect. The light from Proxima has a colour temperature of about 3000K which is rather whiter than a halogen light bulb. The last time I checked, plants in my living room, at night with the light on, still looked green and my white ceiling still looked white. Sure, the light is redder than sunlight, but it's certainly not red light.

      On the other hand, a cool brown dwarf with a temperature of a few hundred degrees probably would have these properties, but Proxima is far from being one of those.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        The light from Proxima has a colour temperature of about 3000K which is rather whiter than a halogen light bulb.

        Quite so, but why is it so red on the snaps, then?

        Serious question.

        1. Wilseus

          Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

          Quite so, but why is it so red on the snaps, then?

          Because, like many such astronomical pictures, it uses false or enhanced colour. This picture is more indicative of its actual appearance: Hubble Image of Proxima Centauri

      2. ravenviz

        Re: Green? Blue? Brown?

        Re: plants in my living room

        Your brain does that, irrespective of the actual colours transmitted

  4. stucs201

    Orion and/or Daedalus?

    Time to dust off the plans?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Orion and/or Daedalus?

      FUND IT!

      Though for Deadalus, I dont think there is a viable fusion motor yet.

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: Orion and/or Daedalus?

        Got to be a good one for Kickstarter.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Hmmm... So it turns out that if you squint closely enough, for long enough, at what's probably one of the easiest* stars (other than our own) around which we might be able to detect an "earth like" planet... you find there's one there!

    I fancy the odds on for there being life out there (in general) will have just been shortened significantly.

    Amazingly significant discovery! B-)

    1. Adair

      Nope, the odds haven't budged one iota, and I use that non-numerical term deliberately because, with a sample of exactly ONE, plus still no definitive understanding of how life actually began here, we have absolutely no idea what the 'odds' actually are for finding life anywhere else, or how to calculate them. All we can say at the moment is that there is 'life' on Earth. Statistics are a bugger.

      Until we have actual evidence all we have is speculation, and anyone who says otherwise is either lying or doesn't understand the present situation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Um, the sample size is two. Both the stars we've so far been able to study closely enough to find "earth like" planets have them. 100% success. In fact, this star has two of the things if you count Earth... they're effin everywhere!

        1. Adair

          Nope, the sample size of planets with verifiable evidence of life on them is currently one.

          1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

            This. Correlation does not imply causation.

            For example, cars are correlated to garages. So I build hundreds of garages, but no cars appeared.

            Or trees are correlated to soil, so I plant a ton of it on the moon... oh, no trees.

            We have to be honest and until we know a process or have a sample size that can be studied, we are guessing at empty space.

  6. Dwarf Silver badge

    Red Dwarf

    Sounds like I'll need some factor 50,000 sun cream then. ;-)

    A year of 11.2 days should make it interesting - I vote to put all the major clothing vendors there so that we can watch as they completely rotate their entire seasonal range every 3 days,. It also has the positive of minimising the impact of their silly policy of only having the goods for the +2 seasons away from today.

    I assume this means that we have plenty of Annual holidays, so the working week sounds attractive. Add on the slightly shortened 3 day annual summer holiday, which will probably carry a massive price premium for holiday destinations. Rock is apparently in high demand, which is fine by me, as long as I can tunnel under it.

    The marketing negative will be that they will be constantly advertising the Christmas break, conversely, there will be a bi-weekly discount opportunity called black 3rd day, which due to delivery lead times will only deliver in time for the following summer.

    There's also the benefit of frequent opportunities for BBQ's

    Seems to have a lot going for it. Mr Musk and Mr Branson, when can I book ?

    1. Stoke the atom furnaces

      Re: Red Dwarf

      Given the planet is probably tidally locked to the star then the working day would never end - ever.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Tidal locking

        However, that also means the night life never ends either. So lets PAAAARTY!

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Tidal locking

          No, they'll be on nightshift and doing the work outsourced from the day side. Their dollar rate will be cheaper so that makes up for the code quality.

      2. wikkity

        Re: then the working day would never end - ever.

        Ah, that’s where my employer is thinking of relocating to

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Red Dwarf

      "A year of 11.2 days should make it interesting "

      That was my first thought too, but not quite for the reasons you gave :-)

      With an 11 day orbit, it's likely to be tidally locked, let alone the sort of forces which must be acting on something Earth sized whizzing around it's star so quickly! It may well be in the habitable zone, but how likely is it to be actually habitable in those conditions? Being neither and astrophysicist nor an astrobiologist or an astro-anything for that matter, does anyone else know?

  7. Tromos
    Joke

    Right under our noses - 4 light years away

    Is that you, Corbynnochio?

  8. pyite

    Solar Flares will be quite a problem

    Unfortunately, red dwarfs have one big problem: ridiculously hot solar flares. It is unlikely that water or an atmosphere would survive long.

  9. Oh Homer
    Pint

    "...so a year only lasts 11.2 days"

    Yay! Christmas every fortnight-ish!

    1. VinceH Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "...so a year only lasts 11.2 days"

      Or, to put it another way: Feck! Christmas every fortnight-ish.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Mikel

    All Pop I stars have earthlike planets

    It's a consequence of how stars form. There will be real estate everywhere.

    Incidentally, Proxima b has been visited by tons of asteroids from the Earth and Mars. So it is even more likely to have life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All Pop I stars have earthlike planets

      What?

    2. tony2heads
      Boffin

      Re: All Pop I stars have earthlike planets

      All totally unproven; your assertions need to be backed up with data.

      All Pop I stars may have planets (possible within the statistics we have) but there is not enough data to say that any significant fraction will be earth-like. Most detected are gas giants (because they are easier to detect).

      How the hell do the asteroids get the escape velocity from the solar system and target themselves to Proxima b, which is a minuscule fraction of the sky, and not even in the plane of the solar system.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: All Pop I stars have earthlike planets

        > All totally unproven; your assertions need to be backed up with data.

        That used to be true. It is no longer true, because Bullshit is now being peddled as science.

        One can make up any story about life on other planets, asteroids from Earth flying through deep space, transporting microbes to Proxima Centauri, spaceships traveling at 0.2c, Mars has water and life and it used to be a tropical paradise, you name it, just make it up and it will fly. 99.9% will believe it, and will never consider - even for a split second - applying some critical thinking to whatever fairy tale is being peddled as scientific fact.

        And in following this train of thought, Ridley Scott's Prometheus is a scientific documentary about the origins of Life and humankind on planet Earth. Problem solved.

  11. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

    Firing hundreds or thousands of tiny sensors at nearby planets seems like a pretty bad idea to me. If there actually is intelligent life there, a chance strike by one of these sublight sensors might do a tremendous amount of damage. And the sensors are too small to return any meaningful data.

    Seems like it is just a interstellar propulsion technology demo. Other than that, it rather seems like the interstellar equivalent of rednecks spraying road signs with their shotguns.

    1. vir

      Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

      The Starshot website has a specific section about collisions with planets. They estimate a kinetic energy of 0.5 kT of TNT, which sounds like a lot, but they also mention that asteroids that deposit 1 kT TNT equivalent or more enter Earth's atmosphere about once a month.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

        I'm more worried about our search for other intelligent life hitting something in orbit/in system that actually demonstrates really intelligent life (at least on the aliens' part)

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

        >they also mention that asteroids that deposit 1 kT TNT equivalent or more enter Earth's atmosphere about once a month.

        Hmmm. And how many of those are alien starshot probes?

    2. TheWeenie

      Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

      It'd make a great movie!

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

      "And the sensors are too small to return any meaningful data."

      Correction: the craft are too small to return any data whatsoever.

      The inverse square law applies. 4 light-years is about 250,000 AU which means it is about 2000 times further away than Voyager 2 right now. The latter is a much larger craft than this "postage stamp with a sail" and can only deliver 160 bits per second where it is now. Reduce that bit-rate by 4 million. (1200 bits per year = 150 bytes per year.) Then try to deliver a 20-kilobyte JPEG of Proxima Centauri. Plan to wait about 150 years for the results. Then remember that you've forgotten to reduce it still further to account for the lower transmission power of a postage stamp. I'm not sure what an appropriate guess would be here, so you can make up your own and multiply the 150 years by whatever number you think of. Finally, realise that after 150 years of travelling at 20% of light-speed (because you've no brakes) the inverse square law *still* applies and you are wasting your time.

      Edit: No, *finally* stop and wonder what the fuckity-fuck Stephen Hawking is doing lending his reputation to something so innumerate.

      1. NCOIC

        Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

        Your probes fly to the halfway point, then flip over 180 degrees sail now acts as a drag chute as you approach target star and slow down. Larger ship uses ion drives to the halfway point, flip over then decelerate until space normal maneuvering possible.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

          Your probes fly to the halfway point, then flip over 180 degrees sail now acts as a drag chute as you approach target star and slow down. Larger ship uses ion drives to the halfway point, flip over then decelerate until space normal maneuvering possible.

          Excuse me, we are now reaching no-reaction-mass needed Star Wars Fantasy Manoeuvering.

          And how exactly is that "drag chute" thing going to work?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

            "And how exactly is that "drag chute" thing going to work?"

            That's why it's called a light sail or solar sail.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: I wish they would can "Operation Starshot"

              Good luck dragchuting against the light of Proxima from 0.9c downwards. That must be some motherfucking humongous sail.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Alien

    Ah, the dreams of ... I dunno.

    "Hence, a habitable rocky planet around Proxima would be the most natural location to where our civilization could aspire to move after the Sun will die, five billion years from now."

    100% sure civilization will be done and dusted several orders of magnitude earlier, if we are lucky.

    Maybe the machines (possibly "semi-biological", after all protein is excellent for building various stuff) will inherit the solar system. I hope so, one always wants to leave the universe a bit more inhabited.

    Additionally, Earth will become non-habitable in about 600 million years as all the CO2 gets scrubbed out of the atmosphere and the habitable zone moves outwards as the Sun heats up. Interesting times for a last run of the evolutionary process.

  13. wikkity
    Alien

    it’s completely hypothetical that Proxima b is Earth-like

    Of course it is, and we'll be just as surprised to find the natives have a perversion about inseminating cows and anal probing americans.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: it’s completely hypothetical that Proxima b is Earth-like

      > a perversion about inseminating cows and anal probing americans

      Actually, it's about MUTILATING cows (and other livestock) and ABDUCTING (anal probing is generally not on the books) not only Murricans.

      Additionally, it's not a "perversion". Trained tour guides from Zeta Reticuli routinely sell these activities under the heading of "THE LULZ". Confusing the locals has been an ancient tradition since at least Ghrn'Harrr the Contorter.

  14. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Solar Flares?

    If life evolves there, won't solar flares wipe it out periodically, given the distance?

    If not, there might be inhabitants that don't want extra people settling.

    Project Starshot isn't very viable. Someone was reading too much SF. The original Project Orion is more feasible.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Solar Flares?

      An excellent question. Does anyone know anything about the flaring behaviour of Red Dwarfs?

      1. Stretch

        Re: Solar Flares?

        "Red dwarfs are far more variable and violent than their more stable, larger cousins. Often they are covered in starspots that can dim their emitted light by up to 40% for months at a time.... At other times, red dwarfs emit gigantic flares that can double their brightness in a matter of minutes" Says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitability_of_red_dwarf_systems#Variability

      2. Mad Chaz
        Joke

        Re: Solar Flares?

        It depends how much curry Lister had.

  15. Croc O'Dial

    And when you get there...

    Mankind then starts all over again and fucks up the environment and when that planet is fucked you look for another one. Let's completely fuck up our current planet before we waste time looking through the pile of shite we've left for another.

    Mankind: the only species of life that started at the top and worked its way down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And when you get there...

      The first one where the guys who invented chlorophyll. Disgusting oxygen fucking everywhere. Everyone DIED!!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And when you get there...

      And who says we started at the top? For most of our history as a species, we and our cousins have been an endangered species, going by population sizes. By rights we should have died out long ago. Only very recently has that danger eased up a bit, and our current population boom is extremely recent and unlikely to be permanent.

      As for environmental damage, the worst we could manage would be small potatoes compared to the "Snowball Earth" and the "Great Dying" extinction events. Sure, we may unbalance things a bit in the short run (up to a million years or so) but in the long view the biosphere will rebalance and do just fine, with or without us. Its seen a lot, lot worse.

      True, we could seriously mess things up for ourselves and for quite a few generations to come. But if we're so evil, then don't we deserve it?

      ;-/

  16. Stretch

    Stephen Baxter

    Surprised no one has mentioned the similarities to Stephen Baxter's novel Proxima:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00E0JYS8M/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    "Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun - and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The 'substellar point', with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the 'antistellar point' on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world?"

    I'm guessing the planet will be tide locked?

    Of course, there is a lot more nonsense in the book. The soil bacteria changes time or something. Um right.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Stephen Baxter

      This really gets me with most sci-fi. It's when they mix sciences. Oh, by all means mix science with fantasy, like in Star Wars. Just leave it unexplained!

      If you want a time machine say "we invented one" or "we went in a black hole/worm hole" and stop there. Put down the pen, and go away. Never ever ever write "we invented one by using magnets and anti-venom" or "we used a tacyon cascade neural net" because it will just sound stupid to those who know the tech/science and is the same as "magic" to those who do not. So why loose both, when you can just write "the hyperdrive core" as they do in the sci-fi that concentrates on the good stuff... the story!

    2. Esme

      Re: Stephen Baxter

      I literally finished reading that book yeserday. No the bacteria doesnt change time, can't think what gave you that notion! Y'might want to read it again.:-}

      1. Tom 64

        Re: Stephen Baxter

        > " I literally finished reading that book yeserday. No the bacteria doesnt change time, can't think what gave you that notion! Y'might want to read it again"

        He's read the sequel

        1. Esme

          Re: Stephen Baxter

          tsk, then he should've said, no? He only mentioned Proxima. I didn't know there was a seuqel until today. :-}

      2. Fink-Nottle
        Headmaster

        Re: Stephen Baxter

        > I literally finished reading that book yeserday. No the bacteria doesnt change time, can't think what gave you that notion! Y'might want to read it again.:-}

        Ah, but can someone re-read a book if they have literally finished reading it?

    3. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Stephen Baxter

      Funnily enough, I'm reading Proxima right now!

  17. Mint Sauce
    Go

    We already know what's out there...

    .. it's our local planning department, which, if we could be bothered to look, probably contains the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council's plans for a hyperspatial express route through our star system...

    I don't know, apathetic bloody planet...

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      For heaven's sake mankind...

      ...it's only four light years away you know!

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: We already know what's out there...

      Yes, but beware of the leopard.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Can't we model the planet ?

    Isn't it possible to model the planet ( tide locked and not ) to see if it could have an atmosphere ?

    Paris, because she's a model ( well, nearly ).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    But, but....

    When will we find out if it is flat like earth? Otherwise you can't really say "earth-like".

  20. Charlie van Becelaere
    Boffin

    So this is where

    the intrepid crew of the Jupiter 2 were likely headed, no? Wagon Train to the Stars indeed!

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: So this is where

      Wagon Train to the Stars was the premise of Star Trek, not Lost in Space.

  21. wolfetone Silver badge

    The Human Condition

    "This planet we're on, well we have really screwed it up."

    "What can we do?"

    "I know! Let's leave this planet and start again!"

    "Amazing! Let's go!"

    ** Hundreds of years later **

    "Our ancestors moved here to escape a dying planet, we now face the same issues."

    "What can we do?"

    "I know! Let's leave this planet and follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and start again!"

    "Amazing! Let's go!"

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: The Human Condition

      And where does it say this is a bad idea? What rules will be broken? sounds like a reasonable way of perpetuating a species!

  22. JWG

    Slight problem with habitability figure

    Yes, our local star (Sun, Sol, Helios, whatever) will burn out in about 5Bilion years, however, as our star ages, it's getting hotter. The surface our dear little mudspeck will be a boiling dirt ball in about 500,000 years. The atmosphere will be long gone with all the water, the surface will then start to look like it did 4.5 billion years ago, molten. As a species (if H. Sapiens even exists that long) should have completely departed this planet by no later than 100,000 years from now. The equatorial regions will be the first to dry out, the rest a short time later. Better book it for Proxima with the next 10,000 years just to be on the safe side. Oh, yeh, I'm 65, so I ain't worry my head about it.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Slight problem with habitability figure

      Reference, please? I've never seen ANYTHING suggesting the Earth will become uninhabitable in less than a million years, considering it has been fine for over half a billion.

      Well, modulo one or two snowball Earths (but deliberate global warming could fix that)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Slight problem with habitability figure

      This sets the boiling dirt-ball stage at 1 billion years from now. Mars will still be okay then, which is nice.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Slight problem with habitability figure

      While JWG's timings are clearly suspect, he is correct to say we should be leaving way before Sol dies, not after.

      The author can wait here while the inner planets are engulfed in red giant plasma, but if humanity (or whatever we are by that time) is to survive, we need to be long gone before that happens.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slight problem with habitability figure

      Are you saying that the temperature of our planet is not tied to mankind's activities? But... but... 97 percent of the scientists that were willing to respond to a survey (only 5% responded)... and most of whom had nothing to do with climatology said it was man made global warming!

  23. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
    Happy

    This startshot thing, will it be crewed by a Scouser, a Cat, a Hologram, and a sarcastic Android?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      That's impossible

      Or rather, very, very improbable

      My bet is on the robot being depressed

      1. Citizen99
        Coat

        Re: That's impossible

        My money's on the Infinite Improbability Drive.

  24. Roger Kynaston

    Obligatory HGTH reference

    At least any explorers will be able to stock up with food at Port Brasta.

  25. Fr. Ted Crilly

    careful now,..

    Just make sure the probe isnt named Planck and not programmed to only search for Human habitable areas.

    I mean, otherwise what could go wrong eh.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie
      Thumb Up

      Re: careful now,..

      I'll meet you on top of Mount Lookittthat!

  26. NCOIC
    Alien

    Evolved VelociRaptors left Earth 64.8 Million years ago to avoid Yucatan Asteroid strike

    Evolved VelociRaptors could have settled on Proxima B after multi generation 80,000 year trip (Only 200 years for those on board ship traveling at 99.9% of Light speed. They continued evolving and became the Grays whose BIG eyes evolved for Dim Red Dwarf star light. Life still only evolved on Earth, and refugee Dinosaurs returning to the old homestead after 65 Million years... Might want the Land back... And we would be quite edible to them... Tasty even. 8-)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Evolved VelociRaptors make Colonel Sanders happy

      Motherfuckers are just upgraded chicken. We would be like Alien to them, in their vents, shorting out their alert systems. Let them come, roll out the BBQ!!

  27. rdhood

    “Saying it’s more Earth-like than just its mass is speculative."

    That ONE statement sums up the entire non-event non-article.

    Let's be clear: they find a planet in a habitable zone and estimate its mass. THAT'S IT. To use the term "Earth-like" is hyperbole. We know know that there are HUNDREDS of minute variables that go into life on earth. If any one of them waivers by just the tiniest bit , life dies.

    Call it "Earth-like" when you can claim another couple hundred of those variables that we know are necessary for life.

  28. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Astronomers lose perspective over "earth-like" planets faster than American politicians and TV anchors do over "emerging popular demands for democracy".

  29. Tubz
    Mushroom

    Colonization will begin, just as soon as the Earth Alliance begin bombing. B5 ;)

  30. hi_robb

    May I

    Be the first to welcome our new Proxima b dwelling overlords!

  31. Palf

    Life will find a way

    Best be on your best behaviour!

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