In August of this year scientific, hardly constraining tears of joy, declared opening of the planet Proxima of b located in the next to us to star system. Having studied all data collected about her, scientists have come to a conclusion that the planet can have the atmosphere, suitable for breath, and even, perhaps, has the sites covered with water.
Results of the last research of this world offer us both good, and bad news at once. Bad news are that the planet, most likely, experiences frequent flashes of “mass extinction” which are caused by activity of her native star. Good news are that, despite it, computer simulyatsionny models show that the planet can still support life.
Within computer simulations scientists have found out that if the Proxima of b actually possesses the atmosphere or the magnetic field similar terrestrial, then life on her surface will be really possible. However, if the planet has no these protective barriers, all live if it there, of course, was, most likely, for a long time has died out.
Let’s take a step back and we will understand what the planet Proxima of b is. First, she attracts very great interest the fact that it is the candidate, closest to Earth, for a rank of the planet. She is located in only 4,25 light years, or 40 trillion kilometers, from us.
Of course, at first sight the figure, on the contrary, can seem just very big, however earlier the rank of the next to us of the planet belonged to the object located in 14 light years. Certainly, at the moment the planet is beyond opportunities of our present technologies of space travel, however in the long term this planet for certain will become the first in the list of planets outside Solar system which scientists will want to visit. Actually, the Russian billionaire Yury Milner was going to pay a visit to the planet in 2060. Not, of course, and by means of the tiny unmanned spacecraft on laser draft.
Secondly, the Proxima of b is in a so-called zone of the Goldilocks. It means that the planet is located to the star rather close to support water in a liquid form, and at the same time is rather far that this water on her in general has remained. Against the background of this aspect researchers have originally assumed that the planet can be manned.
Thirdly, the radius of the planet is approximately only 1,3 times more than Earth, and she is in an orbit near the red dwarf of Proxima of Tsentavra, being a part of star system of Alpha Tsentavra. The orbital period of Proxima of b makes 11,2 terrestrial days. In view of weak luminosity of a native star the planet receives just such amount of heat that water on her surface could exist in the form of liquid and not freeze in eternal ices. Estimation says that temperature on her surface makes-40 degrees Celsius.
It would seem, almost ideal winter resort. However there is one big problem. According to a new research, this world can face regular events which on the same Earth could lead to mass extinction. The cause is the native star spitting from time to time the flashes destroying all live is. In other words, the planet often is affected by the solar storm similar to what is tested by Earth. However Earth has a magnetosphere and the dense atmosphere which protect it from pernicious radiation of the Sun. As for Proxima of b, scientists don’t have convincing proofs that the planet has same “filters” yet.
From the moment of detection of Proxima of b the astrobiologist Dimitra Atri from Institute of space sciences Blya Marbl in Seattle has carried out several computer simulations to find out, how often there are flashes of a native star and in what case life on this planet (if she was there) could keep the existence within these flashes.
Results of his work show that the Proxima of b really could be manned, but everything first of all would depend on her atmosphere.
“I would tell that it is too premature to call Proxima of b manned. There is a set of factors only taking into account which it would be possible to answer a question of whether this planet is capable to support the biosphere. New observations and the analysis will help to clear this situation” — Atri says.
To find out in what cases life on this planet could survive, Atri has taken into account type and the amount of all star flashes known to us in the Universe; has picked up different parameters of density of the atmosphere of the planet, and also different indicators of force of her magnetic field – a key component of shielding and protection of the planet against solar wind. His calculations have shown that everything that it is necessary for Proxima of b to be considered as manned, is an existence of the atmosphere and the magnetic field similar terrestrial.
On the other hand, calculations have also shown that in the presence of the thin, relieved tension and total absence of magnetic field the planet shouldn’t be considered as the promising place for life.
Until we don’t have an opportunity to study the planet in more detail — whether it be personally or by means of more advanced telescopes — we won’t be able precisely to answer questions of what actually characteristics she possesses. However Wipe specifies that not all simulyatsionny models have been checked. If on the planet there were microbes, steady against severe conditions, then it would be another story altogether. And the following that Atri is going to check, is it. At least at least within computer simulations.
“One of the major aspects when carrying out this research was the assumption that the planet already has powerful magnetic field and the dense atmospheric screen. At real presence of these features at the planet, even the most powerful star flashes won’t do serious harm even to the most primitive biosphere” — Atri notes.