Proxima Centauri

ALMA Discovery of Dust Belts Around Proxima Centauri

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 2, 2017
Filed under
ALMA Discovery of Dust Belts Around Proxima Centauri
Sketch (not to scale) of the proposed components in the Proxima Centauri planetary system. Question marks indicate marginally detected features.

Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun, is known to host at least one terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit. Here we report 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, we 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.

We 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, we 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.

ALMA Discovery of Dust Belts Around Proxima Centauri

Guillem Anglada, Pedro J. Amado, Jose L. Ortiz, Jos茅 F. G贸mez, Enrique Mac铆as, Antxon Alberdi, Mayra Osorio, Jos茅 L. G贸mez, Itziar de Gregorio-Monsalvo, Miguel A. P茅rez-Torres, Guillem Anglada-Escud茅, Zaira M. Berdi帽as, James S. Jenkins, Izaskun Jimenez-Serra, Luisa M. Lara, Maria J. L贸pez-Gonz谩lez, Manuel L贸pez-Puertas, Nicolas Morales, Ignasi Ribas, Anita M. S. Richards, Cristina Rodr铆guez-L贸pez, Eloy Rodriguez
(Submitted on 2 Nov 2017)

Comments: 9 pages, 4 figures, accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1711.00578 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1711.00578v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Guillem Anglada
[v1] Thu, 2 Nov 2017 00:42:00 GMT (1880kb,D)
Astrobiology, extrasolar

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na鈥橵i-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 馃枛馃徎