Not so Fast, Alien Hunters! Scientists Explain Why Life is Impossible Around Proxima Centauri

Not so Fast, Alien Hunters! Scientists Explain Why Life is Impossible Around Proxima Centauri
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Many alien enthusiasts have already opened the champagne after the discovery of the radio signals coming from ‘next-door’: Proxima Centauri, one of the stars from the closest solar system to our own, located at ‘only’ about 4.3 light-years. Many believe that intelligent extraterrestrial beings were finally trying to communicate with us. Whether it’s true or not, further studies are needed to clear any doubts. But first and foremost, we must ask ourselves how suitable Proxima Centauri really is for hosting any life forms?

Proxima Centauri is classified as a small and low-mass star. Proxima also has a diameter of only 15% of the Sun’s, as well as a surface temperature of 3,000 degrees Kelvin, meaning much cooler than the Sun’s 6,000K. Space.com gives us the bad news that life’s existence on planets hosted by the star is highly unlikely.

Space weather cancels the possibility of life around Proxima Centauri

The harsh space weather from Proxima Centauri causes any orbiting planet to be bombarded with hazardous particles and magnetic fields. Furthermore, because of the fact that the star is cooler than the Sun, the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ (where the temperature is right for liquid water to form) is just around one-twentieth the Earth’s distance from our own star.

Coronal mass injections (CMEs) are the most violent space weather events, and they can even blow away a planet’s atmosphere. The magnetic field will be destroyed, thus leaving the planet exposed to deadly radiation.

By using the Zadko Telescope, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), CSIRO’s new radio telescope, the ANU 2.3m Telescope, and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), scientists were able to detect a massive optical flare with a total energy output of 16 septillion joules coming from Proxima Centauri. If on the Sun, such flares happen only one time in a decade or two, they occur every few weeks on Proxima Centauri.

Therefore, choosing to spend your vacation on any of Proxima Centauri’s planets is not exactly a good idea.


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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