Every year like clockwork, scientists discover a star system that has potential to house life. Because these potential planets are so far away, discovering just how habitable they are remains a massive challenge for NASA and other organizations attempting to find life. Earlier this week, the next potential “Earth-like” planet was announced. The star is known as Proxima Centuri, a mere 40 trillion kilometers away from our location on Earth. The planet caught in the star’s gravity is being called Proxima b.
What gives the planet “Earth” potential you might ask? Well, Proxima b is much closer to it’s host star when compared to the Sun and Earth; however, the star gives off less energy which would minimize the possibility that the planet would reach volcano-like temperatures. Promixa b has a mass of 1.3 times of Earth and takes only 11.2 days to complete an entire revolution around Proxima Centuri. So, if you ever found yourself on Proxima b, your “weeks” would be a lot shorter.
The biggest question that remains for the life potential on Proxima b is the atmosphere. If none exists, the planet would be bombarded by outside debris and would be unable to sustain any type of gases for life to generate. As we know, Earth has the perfect atmosphere to protect us from the outside universe and provide conditions for humans, animals, and bacteria to thrive. More research will be necessary to narrow down the details.
Due to the distance of Proxima Centuri from Earth, it will take our current technology thousands of years to reach the system. Future technologies are under way to potentially launch small spacecraft by the way of lasers across the universe, which would cut down on the massive distances between planetary bodies. Until that happens, our imaginations will need to do the work.
Thanks to BBC for the story.