At some point, us stupid humans are going to use up all of our natural resources -- or, if you believe in the likes of Michael Bay's 6.6-IMDB-rated magnum opus Armageddon, some space detritus will decimate us, unless Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis exist in the future. Here's hoping.
But in case those two hunky action stars aren't around, scientists may have just found the next-best salve: another Earth. Maybe. According to a report published in the journal Nature, astronomers have discovered a planet, dubbed Proxima b, revolving around neighboring star Proxima Centauri, just 1.295 parsecs away, and "Its equilibrium temperature is within the range where water could be liquid on its surface."
If this sounds like gobbledegook, or you're not Hans Solo, in simple words: the closest star to ours has a possibly habitable planet that's "4.2 light-years, or 25 trillion miles, away from Earth," according to the New York Times, "which is extremely close in cosmic terms." If you're going there, you'll wanna splurge for first class, as 25 trillion miles is a long way to go while drinking $7 beers in coach.
In broader terms, the discovery got space nerds' red rockets ready for blastoff everywhere.
“We know there are terrestrial planets around many stars, and we kind of expected the nearby stars would contain terrestrial planets," astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudé of Queen Mary University of London told the NYT. "This is not exciting because of this. The excitement is because it is the nearest one.”
In case you were thinking of ditching this cold Earth, hold on to your Hyperdrives: Proxima b is way closer to its star, Proxima Centauri, just 5 million miles away, than Earth is to its star, some 93 million miles away. Proxima Centauri is also a Red Dwarf, unlike our Yellow Dwarf, so there's all sorts of differences in mass, light, and other things a guy who writes about Pokémon sex toys can only pretend to understand.
Additionally, while Proxima b is 1.3 times the mass of Earth, its "conditions could be Earthlike, but they could also be hellish like Venus, or cold and dry like Mars." Both also good descriptors for my last relationship! There are no photos of Proxima b, either -- also like my last relationship.
Maybe there's someone who will love me on Proxima b.
Astronomers will continue to research Proxima b, because that's the kind of thing astronomers do, to find out more details, such as if the newly discovered planet has a protective magnetic field, like Earth, that'll prevent radiation from frying everything, according to CNN. No word yet on how many single women are on Proxima b. But I remain hopeful.
If you need to dork out further about this possibly great, possibly not great planet, read the full Nature article for $18, an abstract for free, or get even more context from the NYT.