Good Chances for Alien Life on Proxima B And We Can Thank Solar Flares

Proxima Centauri b is one of the most interesting exoplanets for habitability studies.

There’s an alien world call Proxima B, orbiting the closest solar system to Earth that may host life as we know it. The not-so-distant world, located around 4.23 light-years from Earth, the exoplanet is one of the most interesting worlds for astronomers to study.

For the past years have various scientific studies tried getting to the bottom of whether the alien world meets the necessary requirements to host life as we know it. Although many scientists have concluded that Proxima B could very well be habitable, recent studies have suggested that due to the hostile effects of its star, the planet could be sterile and life is very unlikely.

However, a new study seems to suggest otherwise.

Researchers have recently suggested that the solar flares that strike the planet may in fact help Proxima B to support life. The star around which Proxima B orbits, Proxima Centauri, has proven to be a strongly flaring star, which suggests that the planet (or planets) that orbit the star are surrounded by a very hostile cosmic environment.

But the new study published in Astrobiology may contradict this widely accepted theory.

A team led by Markus Scheucher of the Berlin Institute of Technology has conducted a habitability study of Proxima Centauri b assuming an Earth-like atmosphere under a bombardment of high stellar particles, with a focus on spectral transmission characteristics.

The research used a broad set of models that calculate the energy spectra of stellar particles, their journey through the planetary magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere, ultimately providing the planetary climate and spectral characteristics as described in previous research.

“Our results suggest that together with the incident stellar energy flux, high particle influxes can lead to efficient heating of the planet well into temperate climates, by limiting CH4 amounts, which would otherwise run into anti-greenhouse for such planets around M-class stars,” the researchers wrote in a statement.

The team identified various key spectral characteristics relevant to future spectral observations: First, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) becomes the main absorber in the visible, greatly affecting the spectral index. Second, H2O characteristics can be masked by CH4 (near-infrared) and CO2 (mid to far-infrared), making them undetectable in transmission.

Third, O3 (ozone) is destroyed, and instead, the characteristics of HNO3 become clearly visible in the mid to far-infrared.

A potentially habitable world

Proxima B is the closest known exoplanet to our solar system. The planet orbits its Red Dwarf at a distance of roughly 0.05 AU (7,500,000 km; 4,600,000 mi) with an orbital period of approximately 11.2 Earth days.

With an estimated mass 1.3 times the Earth, the exoplanet has been subject to various studies in the last few years, and astronomers have still not definitely established the habitability index of the alien world.

Despite many scientists claiming that the world is most likely habitable and could have developed life as we know it, certain studies suggest that the planet is subject to stellar wind pressures of approximately 2,000 times those experienced on Earth. Radiation, as well as stellar winds, could blow away any atmosphere, leaving the surface of the planet inhospitable.

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