Scientists have detected dust belts around Proxima Centauri, a finding that indicates the presence of an elaborate planetary system hosted by the closest star to the solar system.
New observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)
Observatory in Chile revealed the glow coming from cold dust in a region between one to four times as far from Proxima Centauri as the Earth is from the Sun.
The data also hints at the presence of an even cooler outer dust belt and may indicate the presence of a system of planets. These structures are similar to the much larger belts in the solar system and are also expected to be made from particles of rock and ice that failed to form planets.
Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun. It is a faint red dwarf lying just four light-years away in the southern constellation of Centaurus.
It is orbited by the Earth-sized temperate world Proxima b, discovered in 2016 and the closest exoplanet to the solar system. However, there is more to this system than just a single planet.
The new ALMA observations reveal emission from clouds of cold cosmic dust surrounding the star.