Proxima Centauri has an earth-sized planet

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#8
"The Queen Mary University of London researcher and his group concede they still have much work to do to extend their observations."

Then I suggest you think about cleaning the telescope, I'd start with that speck of dust.
 

Ursa major

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#12
Ah - my bad - the star is not Alpha Centauri, as the BBC originally reported, but Proxima Centauri
I suppose it was okay as a first... er... approximation....


Given that the plant is still a very long way away, it'll be interesting to see what scientists can come up with to determine whether life exists on that world.
 

Vertigo

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#13
Well I imagine first steps will be attempting to do spectroscopic analysis of the atmosphere. With any luck that will show us if there is at least water. Remember we have three planets here in the habitable zone so let's not get too excited just yet.


Edit: some additional thoughts come to mind:

Do we know if the star's wobble indicates the planet's orbit places it periodically between us and the star? Or another way of asking it: is the system's ecliptic aligned with us? If not it will be difficult or even impossible to gather any other data without a probe and we don't want to think about how long that would take.

Would I be wrong in saying that Red Dwarves are much more unstable than our sun? And due to their lower temperature and therefore much therefore tighter habitable zone any such planet would suffer far more from stellar flares than we do from the sun?

I wonder whether this planet would have been in the habitable zone prior to the star going into its red dwarf phase?
 
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Old_Man_Steve2016

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#14
Maybe we'll point the Webb or the TESS space telescopes at them, when we eventually get them spaceborne. TESS goes up next year and Webb goes up in 2018. I'm drooling just thinking about the data right now! Oh, the lovely light curves!

If you can't wait and want to find your own super-Earth (or hot Jupiter), go to this website and help out. Planet Hunters
 

BAYLOR

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#15

BAYLOR

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#17
The planet has an orbit around Proxima Centauri of 11.2 days. That's a very short year. If there were salient aliens, the adults would likely be thousands of years old! :LOL:

Climatically wouldn't that speedy an orbit render the surface conditions problematic? :unsure:
 

LordOfWizards

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#18
Not necessarily. Space is a vacuum so there's no friction. They say they won't know about the atmosphere for quite some time yet. They think it may be tidally locked with the star, which would have some climactic corollaries. They say that without an atmosphere the surface temperature would be around -40 degrees Celsius. But with enough greenhouse gasses, it could potentially be warm enough for liquid water. Quote from BBC: "This planet is at 5% of the Earth's distance from the Sun. However, Proxima is 1,000 times fainter than the Sun. So the flux - the energy - reaching Proxima b is about 70% of what the Earth receives. It's like taking Earth a bit further away, but it's comparable."
 

BAYLOR

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#19
Not necessarily. Space is a vacuum so there's no friction. They say they won't know about the atmosphere for quite some time yet. They think it may be tidally locked with the star, which would have some climactic corollaries. They say that without an atmosphere the surface temperature would be around -40 degrees Celsius. But with enough greenhouse gasses, it could potentially be warm enough for liquid water. Quote from BBC: "This planet is at 5% of the Earth's distance from the Sun. However, Proxima is 1,000 times fainter than the Sun. So the flux - the energy - reaching Proxima b is about 70% of what the Earth receives. It's like taking Earth a bit further away, but it's comparable."
Its dwarf star, isn't it?

Alpha Centauri B is slightly smaller and less radiant then our sun. It is he best type of star to have because it has far greater longevity and stability then a yellow sun such as the one we have.
 

Vertigo

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#20
If it's tidal locked then that changes everything but if not then the short 'year' would mean that effectively it will not have seasons no matter how much tilt it has got. Instead, assuming it does have a tilt, half of those 11 days would be warm and half cold. So I would imagine that the flora and fauna would have to adopt a similar mechanism tropical jungles where there are almost no seasonal variations. I'm not saying it would be the same temperature but the flora would have to have different triggers for flowering, fruiting etc. and the fauna different triggers for mating.
 

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