A Habitable Planet Could be Closer to Earth Than Scientists Thought

A Habitable Planet Could be Closer to Earth Than Scientists Thought
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Perhaps each one of us had, at least once, a strong desire for moving as far away from this planet as we can. Mars is inhabitable for the moment by humans, and there’s a lot of work to do to even lay a foot there. Even so, a potentially new home could be closer to us than we thought.

Proxima Centauri is the closest star to us, but it’s located farther away than our rockets could ever travel during a human lifetime: 4.23 light-years. But who knows, science in general and technology, in particular, are evolving at tremendous rates, so we have high hopes that it will be possible to go to another solar system in the near future.

Eyes set on Proxima b

Proxima b is one of the planets from Proxima Centauri, and it’s located in the Goldilocks Zone, where it’s not too hot and neither too cold for liquid water to form. Thanks to new research done by a team of Australian scientists, there’s even greater hope that life could exist at the surface of Proxima b. Their work showed for the first time a strong connection between optical flares and radio bursts on a star beyond our Solar System. The finding showed that using radio signals from distant stars can help understand the dramatic effects of space weather upon other solar systems.

Andrew Zic, lead author of the research while he was at the University of Sydney, declared:

Our own Sun regularly emits hot clouds of ionised particles during what we call ‘coronal mass ejections.’ But given the Sun is much hotter than Proxima Centauri and other red-dwarf stars, our ‘habitable zone’ is far from the Sun’s surface, meaning the Earth is a relatively long way from these events,

He also added:

The Earth has a very powerful planetary magnetic field that shields us from these intense blasts of solar plasma. But given Proxima Centauri is a cool, small red-dwarf star, it means this habitable zone is very close to the star; much closer in than Mercury is to our Sun,

What our research shows is that this makes the planets very vulnerable to dangerous ionising radiation that could effectively sterilize the planets.

The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.


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