Scientists believe the exoplanet's unique distance from its star could mean a habitable climate similar to Earth.
The exoplanet was recently discovered in August, but astronomers are adamant that it could hold the possibility of harbouring life due to its position to its host star Proxima Centauri.
The climate created from the distance to Proxima Centauri means it is warm enough for oceans to be present meaning life could exist or potentially exist.
Scientists at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS) carefully calculated Proxima b’s dimensions. This is done by measuring the light it blocks when passing in front of its host star and in this case Proxima b is almost 1.3 times larger than Earth and its surface could hold a single ocean 200 kilometers deep.
“Among the thousands of exoplanets we have already discovered, Proxima b is one of the best candidates to sustain life. It is in the habitable zone of its star, [and] even if it is really close to the star the fact that Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf allows the planet to have a lower temperature and maybe liquid water,” stated lead researcher Bastien Brugger to The Independent. “The fact there could still be life on the planet today, not only during its formation, is huge. The interesting thing about Proxima b is it is the closest exoplanet to Earth. It is really exciting to have the possibility that there is life just at the gates of our solar system.”
The Proxima Centauri is around 1000 times weaker than our own sun and much smaller in size, however the distance of 7.5 million kilometres (4.6 million miles) from its star means the heat emitted towards the exoplanet creates, in theory, the perfect conditions for alien life.
More research needs to be undertaken but this is an exciting prospect for the team who believe they may have found the first planet outside of our solar system to host life.
Details of the research were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters