A researcher has suggested possibility of life on Proxima b – a planet orbiting a star Proxima Centauri – if the planet is has a thick protective atmosphere or a strong magnetic field.
Dimitra Atri, an astrobiologist at the Blue Marble Institute of Space Science, published a paper wherein he has revealed that simulations indicate the possibility of life on the planet despite the fact that it is hammered with stellar flares emanating from Proxima Centauri.
The star is located at a distance of 4.22 light years from the Sun and it is not visible to the unaided eye from Earth because of its low luminosity. Scientists discovered that Proxima b orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface, if it were present. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us; it may even be the closest possible abode for life beyond our own Sun.
According to Professor Atri it is quite possible for Proxima b to support life if the planet has a thick enough atmosphere to filter the radiations from the star, its magnetic field is strong enough to deflect the flares from the Sun and the stellar flares are not particularly strong.
Proxima b, orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun in our Solar System, the star itself is far fainter and cooler than the Sun. As a result, Proxima b has an estimated temperature that–if water were present–would allow it in a liquid state on its surface, thus placing it within the so-called “habitable zone” around the star.
“If intelligent aliens were living on Proxima b, they would have a very dramatic view,” says Brad Wargelin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), who is the lead author of the study wherein it was suggested that Proxima Centauri might be more sunlike than we thought.