Space & Astronomy
Nearest exoplanet has potential to support life
By T.K. Randall
April 16, 2019 · 10 comments
Could Proxima b support alien life ? Image Credit: ESO/L. Calcada
Scientists have determined that planets orbiting red dwarf stars may be capable of supporting primitive life.
Situated only 4.2 light years away in orbit around the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the terrestrial planet Proxima b, which was first discovered back in August 2016, could be a genuine Earth 2.0.
Since its discovery, astrophysicists have been attempting to learn as much as possible about its surface conditions in an effort to determine whether or not it could be habitable.
One of the biggest hurdles for life on Proxima b is the fact that red dwarf stars, while very common throughout the universe, are notoriously unstable and capable of producing deadly solar flares with frightening regularity.
Now though, a new study has revealed that planets in orbit around red dwarf stars may not be quite as inhospitable as previously believed, as evidenced by computer models simulating the ultraviolet radiation exposure of several nearby extrasolar planets including Proxima b.
"The unsurprising result was that the levels of surface UV radiation were higher than we experience on Earth today," study co-author Jack O'Malley-James told Universe Today
"However, the interesting result was that the UV levels, even for the planets around the most active stars, were all lower than the Earth experienced in its youth. We know the young Earth supported life, so the case for life on planets in M star systems may not be quite so dire after all."
Source: Science Alert
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