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Space & Astronomy

Nearest exoplanet has potential to support life

By T.K. Randall
April 16, 2019 · Comment icon 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 | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
Publications like this is slowly becoming an annoyance. It's starting to resemble people seeing Jesus in a slice of toast. Ok, so there is an exoplanet that might have liquid water! Wow! An asteroid with amino acids, spooky! Traces of water on the moon, OMG! Mars is a whole chapter! They come all the time, but they prove nothing! It's like the fish tank in Monty Python's "Meaning of life"... 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Piney 5 years ago
Yup, considering they don't know it's just guesswork in a white coat.  I have doubts about finding anything in the Goldilocks zone of a red dwarf. All stars produce solar flares no matter how active or not they are and unless the planet has one hell of a magnetic field it's as dead as a brontosaur. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
The surest sign that someone is totally clueless about how science ACTUALLY works is a sentence like that. The surest sign of hypocrisy is falsely accusing others of guesswork and then making a wild guess like this:  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
For someone that claims to be a science nerd you also show a distinct lack of understanding of scientific methodology. What do you expect them to prove? Just because they can't prove whether there is life on any given planet does not mean that research can not occur to determine whether life is actually POSSIBLE on that planet. Not all research leads to proof, but it does lead to greater understanding.
Comment icon #5 Posted by XenoFish 5 years ago
If life happened to exist on such a planet, it'll probably be extremely resilient. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Piney 5 years ago
It would definitely be a extremophile.   
Comment icon #7 Posted by MWoo7 5 years ago
 How many times have we heard of this exoplanet eh?!?!?! Are there life forms there or not ?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Piney 5 years ago
You know I told you those 8mm baby videos were private. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by MWoo7 5 years ago
OMG!!!!! that trumps mine NO FAIRS!  Well so as not to DEEEEFLECT ! and to pull my trolling horns back in I'll swing this back around.... if they would just once say HEY!!!!! pattern says the atmosphere is puuuuuuuurrfect folks, and we know for a fact blah blah blah.... hence this pic here WOOOOOHOO! I'd go    
Comment icon #10 Posted by sci-nerd 5 years ago
No, it is because I know the scientific method, that I criticize them. I know, and they know, that there are 40 billion candidates out there. Making a publication each time a good candidate is detected is like making a report every time someone sneezes. It's redundant and unnecessary! I welcome reports about specific research results, as long as it's news. This is not news. This is "I need more money for my boring - one in 40 billion - research".

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