After years of research, and decades of hope to find aliens among us, scientists have confirmed the existence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun. The planet named Proxima b is a rocky planet and is at a habitable distance from its star, meaning that there is a possibility of liquid water on its surface. The Proxima b is not only the closest terrestrial planet discovered but in all likeliness is the closest planet outside our solar system, that could be possibly found. The reason being, Proxima Centauri is the closest star to our Sun.
The research around Proxima b is definitely to continue and scientists may as well be able to send unmanned spacecraft to the planet by the next few decades. The existence of water on its surface is hoped for, but it all comes boiling down to the atmosphere; if the planet has one. Another thing yet to be known is if the planet has a protective magnetic field to protect it from the radiation it receives from the Proxima Centauri.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the Proxima b:
- Astronomers have not yet directly seen images of the planet. Proxima B was detected after 16 years of analyzing telescopic recordings of the Proxima Centauri, Proxima b’s mother star.
- The Proxima b is 4.2 light-years away from our solar system, which is 266,000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun; 92.96 million miles.
- That planet is estimated to be around 4.9 billion years old. Its skies are consist of red-hued rays of a Red Dwarf star only 12% the mass of our Sun
- Proxima b is a terrestrial planet, a rocky one. It has a mass of 1.3 times the mass of Earth and orbits its mother star every 11.2 days.
- The Proxima b and the Proxima Centauri are only 4 million miles apart from each other, which is only 5% of the distance between earth and the sun.
- The Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf, meaning that it is quite cooler than the sun. Hence Proxima b is said to be lying in the habitable zone despite its close proximity. The planet also receives 2/3rds of its energy from its star, much like Earth.
- Proxima B is likely tidally locked. This means that one side of the planet receives permanent Daylight, while the other sits in eternal darkness. If the planet has an atmosphere, it could get the night side to share the heat from the day side.
- The planet receives about 60 times more radiation from its star than Earth does from the Sun.
- Red dwarfs like the Proxima Centauri are very active stars, generating a good amount of powerful solar flares.
- The Proxima Centauri is quite dim by the standards of the stars. Scientists believe that there is only 1.5% chance that the Proxima B passes in front of its star from our perspective on Earth. If Proxima b ever eclipses Proxima Centauri, its detection would be made much easier to humans.
It might take decades, even centuries to reach the planet and start research about the possibility of life, but the discovery of the Proxima b has definitely begun the Human race’s exploration of the Universe on a much larger scale.