Earth-like planet, sort of

There is news today of the discovery of an earth-like planet orbiting the star closest to us, Proxima Centauri. It has been labelled ‘Proxima b’.

But there are a lot of unknowns and possibilities.

One News/Breakfast is reporting “and it may have water on it”. However there is no evidence of water. The planet is just in a zone where temperatures may allow water to be present.

The discovery is very interesting, but there are many differences between this star and planet compared to the Sun and Earth.

From BBC: Earth-sized world ‘around nearest star’

The nearest habitable world beyond our Solar System might be right on our doorstep – astronomically speaking.

Scientists say their investigations of the closest star, Proxima Centauri, show it to have an Earth-sized planet orbiting about it.

What is more, this rocky globe is moving in a zone that would make liquid water on its surface a possibility.

Proxima is 40 trillion km away and would take a spacecraft using current technology thousands of years to reach.

Just how “habitable” this particular planet really is, one has to say is pure speculation for the time being.

There are a lot of differences.

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star which is much smaller and cooler than our Sun – it is closer in size to Jupiter.

90889553_proxima_b_star

The discovered planet is similar in size to Earth but data suggests it is much closer to it’s sun with a much shorter orbit time:

  • mass is about 1.3 times that of the Earth
  • orbits at a distance of about 7.5 million km from it’s star – Earth orbits at about 149.6 km from our Sun.
  • one revolution takes about 11.2 days (a very short ‘year’).
  • Proxima Centauri is 1,000 times fainter than our Sun.
  • the energy reaching Proxima b is about 70% what the earth Receives

Obviously water and life could potentially exist in a wide range of astronomical situations. Other planets and suns don’t have to be just the same as our ones.

So this is a very interesting discovery, and leaves open many possibilities, but there is no proof of water or life.

I don’t know how much more we will find out about Proxima. It is about 40 trillion kilometres away and with our current technology it would take thousands of years to get a spacecraft there, if it could survive that long.

Proxima Centauri is about 4.243 light years away from us. We have a photo of it from Hubble…

New shot of Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbour

…but even that is looking back at history.

Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  25th August 2016

    Cool.. now we just need, to invent a ‘Warp-ship’ to get there…

    “Beam me up Scotty !” 😀

    Reply
  2. Zedd

     /  25th August 2016

    where’s Dr. Zephram Cochran, when we need him ? 😀

    Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  25th August 2016

    I’ve met quite a number of *space cadets* filling Senior Management roles in my working life, so interstellar travel is quite likely already a reality.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  25th August 2016

    Poor buggers, they’ve probably been warned off fossil fuels and are shivering in the dark because of the hideous threat of global warming too.

    Reply
  5. Nelly Smickers

     /  25th August 2016

    Funnily enuf, Wayne said he thinks he’s seen it 😎

    Reply

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