Proxima B – Life in the Habitable Zone?   26 comments

Historic Potentially Earth-Like World Proxima B

The historic discovery of potentially Earth- like world Proxima-b was announced 24 August 2016. Orbiting Proxima Centauri, a Red Dwarf star in the habitable zone and the nearest star to our own Sun Proxima-b marks not only the closest alien planet ever found but also with the potential to be habitable.

Proxima b

This artist’s impression shows what the sky might look like on Proxima Centauri b if the planet has a surface. The exoplanet orbits the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, currently the closest star to the solar system at 4.2 light-years. The other two members of the Alpha Centauri triple, Alpha Centauri A and B, would appear in the sky, too.
ESO / M. Kornmesser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this proves to be the case, then there is no shortage of time for some form of life to originate based on the fact that red dwarf stars such as Proxima Centauri burn for trillions of years.

From the point of view of the average Earth-based visitor stopping by for a summer vacation, Proxima-b runs the risk of being a rather boring holiday resort. The sun-tan would be awesome, not so much so the destruction of the biological cells exposed to the intensely dodgy UV radiation that is present. Combined with the prospect of heavy duty sun-screen to protect from the sun’s constant bombardment of energy flares bouncing around the planetary surface probably wouldn’t be classed as entirely awesome either. On top of which the Proxima Centauri flares would also banish any hope of using mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes or any other such devices thanks to its electronics-disabling qualities. so no ET calling home and definitely no Skype!

Proxima b _Bustle DarkBAlthough it is a tidally locked planet– roasting hot on its star- facing side, freezing cold on the other, there is also enough wind around in the atmosphere to circulate the heat, balancing out the extreme temperatures that would otherwise exist. None-the-less a visit to the the planetary darkside, where it is bathed in perpetual night could prove to be the safest, and possibly the only option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately astronomers are choosing to be particularly pessimistic about this little world following the initial euphoria and have currently decided it is probably a dead, airless rock that will never harbour life due to it’s close proximity sun (20x nearer than Earth to the Sun) creating a risk of it boiling off the water and thereby stripping away the planet’s atmosphere. Researchers its oxygen will be gone in about 10 million years. Life on Earth took billions of years to develop.

Young M Dwarf StarsYoung M dwarf stars can unleash dangerous flares, (“planet-frying radiation”) that strip off atmosphere-forming oxygen spelling doom for closely orbiting planets. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / S. Wiessinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

proxima bImage: NASA Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab

However hope lives eternal. Theoretically it is possible life could advance to endure the high levels of radiation, by altering the worst of Proxima Centauri’s emissions into inoffensive visible light. We know this is plausible, because due to a process known as biofluorescence this —has already happened on many occasions on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately It is expected that the 2018 launch of The James Webb Space Telescope, will provide answers to the critical question of whether there is any chance at all that Proxima b is capable of supporting life.

Proxima b – Habitable ‘Ocean Planet’??

Another possibility is the Proxima b could be an ocean world whose entire surface consists of a liquid ocean. This may bear a similarity to the Jupiter and Saturn moons that are icy worlds with subsurface oceans.

On the other hand the more optimistic researchers suggest that Proxima b may in fact be habitable after all. So don’t put the suitcases back in the attic just yet intrepid cosmic holiday makers! If Proxima b had in reality formed further out from it’s sun than its current position this would also offer a high possibility of there being water. This idea is based on the outer realms of planetary systems being more likely to form ice. If it then moved inwards for a up closer and more personal relationship with its sun then this ice could melt and form seas. Maybe 😉

Sea

Proxima b – A Desert World??

be8a53dc8479400431b0270a3d2ef730But it still seems most likely, according to Victoria Meadows (University of Washington), that this exoplanet is a desert world since the radiation bombarding it would almost certainly have evaporated the majority of the water. This process could have collected the oxygen and hydrogen in the water and created an atmosphere rich in oxygen. Then again it could a 2nd Venus with an atmosphere rich in Carbon Dioxide, or even another Uranus or Neptune.

The Other Closest Habitable-Zone Worlds

If all else fails cosmic holiday makers may wish to try some of the nearbyProxima Wolf 3, potentially habitable exoplanet worlds, for size….: Kapteyn b (13 light-years away) and Wolf 1061 c (14 light-years). Both planets are just over half again as wide as Earth, with minimum masses of 4 to 5 Earths, and both are in their stars’ habitable zones. Wolf 1061 c does not look at all hopeful in terms of habitability. But Kapteyn b looks good. It’s about 3½ times farther from its sun than Proxima b is from its sun so potentially it could be far enough out of reach of its sun’s rather violent output to provide a half decent holiday resort!

 

References:

www.skyandtelescope.com

www.gizmodo.com

www.space.com

www.scinews.com

www.csmonitor.com

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26 responses to “Proxima B – Life in the Habitable Zone?

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  1. Sehr schöner Beitrag lieber Freund Danke für deinen lieben Besuch ich wünsche dir noch einen schönen Nachmittag und liebe Grüße von mir Gislinde

  2. As ever dear Wolfie, your stargazing exploits takes us deeper into outer-space and the possibilities of other habitual places for humans to set foot and conquer.. 🙂
    Loved those images.. And reading the atmospheric climate of such places just shows how Mother Nature got it so right here on Planet Earth..
    I just wish science would spend as much resources and energy on our planet and stop those who pollute it left right and centre..
    Sigh….
    Any way wolfie, so lovely to light upon this blog in my reader today.. and I hope all is well within your world my friend.. Sending Lots of Love your way.. Sue xxx ❤

    • Greetings this Sunday afternoon Sue 🙂 Yes, the question of pollution here on Earth is an ever concerning issue, but I think it is so bad now that even if we could turn things around it would cost far more than anyone can afford, and certainly far more than the long term costs of exploring new worlds. Whilst we’re still breeding like rabbits we will run out of room and resources on Earth anyway and have no choice but to spread out our wings to other worlds! Lovely to see you again and I hope all is good with you today. Wolfie hugs :

      • Yes all is well dear Wolfie.. and WP is playing up a bit with me recently.. So I am not always getting updates of new posts or comments back from people in my notifications.. As well as being spammed in certain blogs that somehow I can not get out of even by the Happy Engineers.. 🙂 So… It was great I spotted your post and was able to back track..
        Love and warm hugs back.. xxx

      • It was very lovely that you spotted my post lol 😉 I remember you saying in previous blog posts that you’d been having problems with spam in particular. I do hope you et in revised and sorted. My posts have been a rare occurance over recent months so the reader was probably so shocked it couldn’t help but show them! Lucky my blog doesn’t have an expiry date on it as my forced absence whilst completing my K9 Nutrition course caused several online courses to expire – no time to go near them either, and now I have had to pay out for extensions for them or waste all the previous payments, and one still won’t give me access! No one is answering my emails and now the server has gone down at another course provider’s end and I can’t get access to that course either! So I appreciate your frustrations too! Nevermind Sue…spring is on its way! We will feel so much better when nature comes back to life 🙂 Maybe our PC woes will get a new lease of life and sort themselves out too! 🙂 xx

      • Sorry you have had such Problems Wolfie.. I sympathise.. And yes SPRING is on the way. for now its leading us in that false direction.. I am sure come March though we may well be in for a surprise.. 🙂 so not going to fall for it just yet.. Though these nice warmer days are great.. 🙂 Have a great rest of the Day my four legged friend xxx 🙂

      • I refuse to believe it will not be anything but blue skies and sunshine from now on in! lol 😉 I have a week’s annual leave towards the end of March and I have already explained to the weather systems that I require them to be warm and relaxng and calm, so I can go out and enjoy myself 🙂 xx

      • Glad you have put your order in Wolfie.. that is what I do.. and I also find booking a spare place in the parking lot helps on shopping days 🙂 lol.. I get one every time.. xxx

      • Always good to book spare place in the parking lot lol I think you have to be really firm about these matters and assert yourself in no uncertain way so as to ensure guaranteed parking space and a nice relaxed shopping trip….Every single time! 😎xxx

  3. Very interesting and curious to think about. Someday perhaps human beings will roam other planets.
    When and where exactly? That remains to be the unknown.

  4. I’m ready to take a trip with you in search of liver cake. I wonder if there are any chickens?

  5. Spännande inlägg wolfie..
    Dom har pratat mycket på tv sista dagarna om dom nya planeter dom upptäckt som liknar jorden..
    och ja vi behöver tydligen fler planeter eftersom vi förstör den vi har..
    Ha en fin helg kram Nicki

    • Du rätt Nicki. Alla nyheter nu om detta – jordningliknande planeter … Min lilla vän Proxima b är nu ingen! 🙁😞 Men dessa planeter nya är mycket spännande för och inte bara för att vi förstör värld. Solen kommer inte brinna för evigt och när det dör så gör vi. Så för den anledningen måste försöka hitta en ny jordning för framtida gånger 🤔 Ha en bra helg 😀

  6. Danke lieber Freund wünsche dir eine gute Woche Grüße und Umarmung Gislinde

  7. I wish you a long, comfortable and cozy weekend ..
    Love and hugs // Nicki

  8. Ach Danke und einen schönen Sonntag für dich eine Umarmung Gislinde

  9. Kenny was ere. 😉

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