BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Proxima b was discovered this August, by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). This Earth candidate is a possible future home, if we as human race manage to reach the speed of light sometime in the future.
The discovery gave scientists hopes of finding life on the Earth-like planet. Mikko Tuomi, from the University of Hertfordshire, UK believes that Proxima b could be our best bet for finding microbial organisms.
Proxima b is located four light years away from us. Its mass is 30 percent bigger than Earth’s. It orbits a red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri. Orbiting around the star takes just 11.2 days. This means that a year on Proxima b would last for approximately eleven days.
The precise density and radius of the planet remain undetermined. But astronomers have come to the conclusion that it is in a zone which has a potential for life as we know it to develop. That is called the “habitable zone.”
The temperature on Proxima b’s surface is ideal for liquid water to exist. Every piece of information points to the fact that Proxima b could host life, even though it’s different from Earth – according to Tuomi.
Because the planet has a mass similar to our own, there is increasing evidence it has a rocky surface and composition.
Many other physical characteristics of Proxima b are still undetermined. We know that the flux of radiation on the surface of the planet is 70 percent of the flux we have on Earth. This links to lower temperatures on Proxima b.
Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the Earth candidate has an atmosphere and a greenhouse effect, possibly stronger than Earth.
The answer to the “alien question” is not yet formulated. Theoretically, the planet would have to meet three basic conditions, for the smallest forms of life to develop – microbial organisms.
First, there should be a rocky surface. And the planet meets that condition. Secondly, the planet has to contain water. As water is found in space, either frozen, liquid, vaporized or in other states, there is a high probability there is water on Proxima b. Even liquid water is likely to present.
The tricky condition, of having carbon dioxide, is met by all Earth-sized planets in our own solar system.
Tuomi concluded that there is a good chance life could develop on Proxima b.