Proxima B is richly covered with an ocean – increase of life possible

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proxima b ocean

New research suggests that planet Proxima B, that was recently discovered close to the nearest star, is richly covered with water.

In late August, scientists announced that they had discovered an exoplanet around Proxima Centauri . The exoplanet is only four light years away and was baptized Proxima b. The planet is in the habitable zone. This means that the temperature on the surface of the planet is not too high, but also is not too low and liquid water on the surface of Proxima b is a possibility.

Ocean

And now the story of Proxima b gets a sequel. These researchers argue that Proxima b actually hold water. And a lot of it. The entire surface of the planet may be covered with water.

Transition

To find out more about the composition and appearance of a planet, we must actually know the radius. The radius of an exoplanet is determined normally during a transition: when the planet moves along between its star and the observer. Proxima b but has not yet made such a transition, and recent research suggests that the likelihood that we will observe such a transition is very small (about 1.5 percent).

Simulations

Fortunately there is another way to estimate the radius of the exoplanet. Using simulations. Researchers simulate all possible compositions of the planet and then watch the simulation best matches what they actually see. And that’s exactly what scientists have done.

Proxima b simulation
The various simulations. Proxima b left with an iron core and rocky mantle. Earth in the middle. Right Proxima b with a rocky core and a global ocean.

Two Scenarios

The study shows that the radius of Proxima b is between 0.94 and 1.4 times the radius of the Earth (6371 kilometers) away. Let’s start from the first: a range of 5990 kilometers. In that case, the planet must have a sizable metallic core which accounts for about 65 percent of the mass of the planet. At the core rests a rocky mantle. On this planet would a water surface be possible, but it would be no more than 0.05 percent of the total mass of Proxima b. That may seem little, but is comparable to the amount of water on earth. But what if the planet has a radius 1.4 times as large as the radius of the earth? Then there would be a rocky core that accounts for about fifty percent of the mass of Proxima b. The remaining 50 percent is water: a global ocean is about 200 kilometers deep.

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Atmosphere

In both scenarios, the presence of the oceans is likely. Furthermore, both simulations indicate the presence of a thin atmosphere which obviously makes a huge contribution to the viability of Proxima b.

Of course they are simulations. More observations will have to show whether the researchers are on the right path and to determine Proxima b is indeed an attractive place to live.

Related: Planet Proxima Centauri B: “Evidence of Possible Live Found”

Planet Proxima B is recently discovered, little to nothing is known to come with concrete conclusion it’s worth to invest money in a “Proxima Space Project”.

Do you think the scientists are right?

  • Yes there is water (100%, 1 Votes)
  • No they need to collect more evidence (0%, 0 Votes)

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