Exoplanets: Alpha Centauri B b

Alpha Centauri B bThe recent announcement of the first planet to be discovered in the Alpha Centauri system has caused much excitement, even though it's early days and we know little about it. It seems fairly certain that there's a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, the slightly fainter of the two main components of the system, and that it's very close to the star, and therefore has a very short orbital period - under 4 days in fact. The orbital radius is about 0.04AU - much closer than Mercury is to our sun, which means the surface facing the star is exceedingly hot - about 1,500K. And where's there's one planet, there are sure to be more - but there won't be any gas giants as observations and modelling have already set an upper limit to the sizes of planet we could find in the Alpha Centauri system.

Alpha Centauri A & B - with Labels

The image above shows the planet orbiting Alpha Cen B, with the planet, Alpha Cen A and B and various other stars, including our our sun, marked. The image was created by inputting the known data into Celestia, generating an accurate view from a position close to the planet, and then recreating it in a high resolution using Cinema 4D and Photoshop.

Below is the same image without the labels - click for larger images.

Alpha Centauri A & B


2 more views, closer to the planet.

Alpha Centauri B bAlpha Centauri B b