Astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the School of Physics and Astronomy has been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2016. His inclusion on this prestigious list, in the Pioneers category, recognises his discovery of the exoplanet Proxima b, in orbit around the nearest star to Earth (bar the Sun, of course).
25 April 2017
This was one of the most exciting results ever in the field of exoplanet research and has been widely reported in the scientific and popular media. The planet, which has a mass just a little larger than the Earth’s, lies within the habitable zone around its host star, where liquid water could be present on the planet’s surface — making it a candidate for the existence of some kind of life. Further details of the Time magazine list and the discovery can be found here.
Guillem was included alongside other pioneers in the field of exoplanet research: Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium, who has found seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star called Trappist-1; and Natalie Batalha, the current lead scientist for NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has found evidence for some 4,700 exoplanets since 2009.
The image shows an artist’s impression of the planet Proxima b and its host star Proxima Centauri. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.