The discovery of a potentially habitable exoplanet orbiting the closest star to Earth outside the solar system shocked the world and created plenty of excitement around the internet.
The exoplanet’s called Proxima b, and it orbits a little red dwarf star just 4.25 light-years away — an incredibly short distance in cosmic terms. The idea that there’s a second Earth so close to us has two major implications: future humans who’ve mastered interstellar space travel could potentially live on this rock, and perhaps extraterrestrials already call the little bugger home.
It’s the closest exoplanet we will ever find, and the prospect that it’s habitable raises the stakes higher than we could possibly imagine. Naturally we’ll have to wait till follow-up studies actually assess how habitable the planet is — and we’re still at least decades away from feasibly sending spacecraft out to Proxima Centauri and its planet. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the space discovery of the century so far. (Unless of course we find life on Mars or something.)
And of course, social media denizens wasted no time celebrating the new discovery. Here are some of the best reactions across the internet in the last 24 hours.
(SpaceX is probably already making plans to fly out and visit Proxima b.)Photos via ESA/Hubble