Hope for Life on Proxima Centauri B is Dimming

Cameron Lund, Contributor

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Discovered on August 24, 2016 the newly born planet Proxima Centauri B brought hope to Astronomers looking for life in the stars. Its Host Star  Proxima Centauri is “a Red Dwarf that lies just 4.2 light-years from the sun. Red dwarfs are smaller and dimmer than the sun, so their habitable zones lie much closer-in than those of sun-like stars. For example, Proxima B orbits a mere 4.6 million miles from Proxima Centauri and completes one lap every 11.2 Earth days”(Space.com). With a distance of 4.24 light years away from Earth, Proxima B holds the record for being the closest planet to humans that could possibly sustain life.

The hope for Proxima Centauri B has been raising for the past two years as scientists have studied and discovered more properties of the planet. Recently, Astronomers have discovered not one but multiple surface oceans on the planet. And besides the oceans, the planet is covered by a rocky texture with temperatures ranging within 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this there is a ice like coat over parts of the planet which is habitable for for the human race . “Such proximity raises questions about the potential habitability of Proxima B and similar worlds. Red-dwarf planets close enough to be in the habitable zone are likely tidally locked, meaning they always show the same face to their parent stars, astronomers say. So, one side of Proxima B may be broiling-hot, while the other is cold and dark”(Space.com).

For a planet to be considered habitable, its features must include water and be able to contain gases. As said in a article “although the amount of initial water on the planet is unknown, calculations reveal that Proxima b could have lost about 1 ocean’s worth of water due to the early irradiation in the first 100-200 million years after formation. What happened after that time is very uncertain. The planet could have continued to lose significant amounts of atmosphere gases and end up as a dry, atmosphere less world. Or perhaps it could have been able to keep most of its atmosphere and preserve liquid water on the surface and therefore be hospitable to life as we know it. Both possibilities are still open. Much research is still due, but the studies conclude that the presence of liquid water on the surface today cannot be ruled out and thus Proxima B can be considered a viable candidate habitable planet” (The Habitability of Proxima B).

Just as the suspicion for life and sustainability raised on Proxima B, it’s host planet had a sudden explosion. Lasting about 10 seconds long, Proxima Centauri released a surface flare that increased the brightness of itself ten times over. “It’s likely that Proxima B was blasted by high-energy radiation during this flare,” study lead author, Meredith MacGregor, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.”Over the billions of years since Proxima Centauri formed, flares like this one could have evaporated any atmosphere or ocean and sterilized the surface, suggesting that habitability may involve more than just being the right distance from the host star to have liquid water”(Space.com).

Within these ten seconds, the universe has changed the opportunity for scientists and astronomers to put and sustain life on Proxima B. It is now more dangerous than ever because the sudden flares made by it host planet are unpredictable and at any second could exterminate any life placed on Proxima B instantly. Since the flare scientist have been attempting to find new planets that could sustain human life. Now all that is left to do is wait for the discovery that could possibly save the entire human race.

 

https://www.space.com/39829-nearest-exoplanet-proxima-b-superflare.html

http://www.ice.csic.es/personal/iribas/Proxima_b/

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