Earth’s ‘next door neigh­bor’ could hold water

Iran Daily - - Science & Technology -

Since its dis­cov­ery two years ago in 2016, ques­tions have been raised about Prox­ima b, namely the con­di­tion of the eerie planet’s sur­face, be­lieved to be sim­i­lar to Earth’s.

A re­cent study on the planet, that or­bits within the hab­it­able zone of a star 4.2 list years away from Earth, sug­gests Prox­ima b con­tains a large amount of liq­uid water, ex­ wrote.

This also sug­gests that un­der the right con­di­tions it could also sup­port life.

Re­searchers ran cli­mate sim­u­la­tions of Prox­ima b with a dy­namic ocean.

The re­sults re­vealed the planet is locked in tidally with its star, Prox­ima Cen­tauri, mean­ing it ex­pe­ri­ences day and night.

While any water on the planet’s ‘night­side’ would be per­ma­nently frozen, it’s ‘day­side’ tells a dif­fer­ent story.

Re­searchers said in the study: “Cli­mate mod­els with static oceans sug­gest that Prox­ima b could har­bor a small day­side sur­face ocean de­spite its weak in­stel­la­tion.”

With an ocean present that would move into the planet’s night­side, the water that may well be present on Prox­ima b sud­denly be­comes much more sig­nif­i­cant.

An­thony Del Ge­nio, a plan­e­tary sci­en­tist at the NASA God­dard In­sti­tute for Space Stud­ies, told Live­science: “The ma­jor mes­sage from our sim­u­la­tions is that there’s a de­cent chance that the planet would be hab­it­able.”

Prox­ima b sim­u­la­tions were re­vealed to show a “a dy­namic ocean, a hy­po­thet­i­cal ocean-cov­ered Prox­ima Cen­tauri b with an at­mos­phere sim­i­lar to mod­ern Earth’s can have a hab­it­able cli­mate with a broad re­gion of open ocean, ex­tend­ing to the night­side at low lat­i­tudes”.

The planet is con­sid­ered to be a neigh­bor to Earth due to its close dis­tance and it also be­ing clos­est Earth-like planet so far dis­cov­ered.

Prox­ima b or­bits Earth’s near­est star and mis­sions to send space­craft there to an­a­lyze it and find any signs of life are cur­rently be­ing planned.

An artist im­pres­sion of what Prox­ima b could look like. GETTY IMAGES

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