“Is one of our nearest rocky planet habitable?”
A discovery has been made that is possibly so great that it can change the course of humanity forever. Or not. A new planet has been discovered in Proxima centauri (the nearest solar system to ours) only 4.2 light years away from us called Proxima B. We already know a few things about Proxima B, specifically has a mass that is just over a third greater than the Earth’s, it is only slightly more than seven million kilometers away from the star that it orbits, and is tidally locked (meaning one face of the planet will always be facing the star). But more importantly, this planet falls within the habitable zone of it’s star, which means that this planet has temperatures in the range that is “just right” to host liquid water.
However, there are many factors of this planet that might just burst our bubble. First of all, we have no idea what the atmosphere of proxima B is composed of. In fact, for all we know, it could be completely toxic! Also, since the host star of Proxima B is a red dwarf, the habitable zone for the distance for the habitable zone of this planet is merely 5% of our own. This means that Proxima B is extremely close to it’s orbiting sun. So close in fact that the time for a single year to go by is merely 11 Earth days, and since red dwarfs can be very volatile, there is a strong possibility of unpredictable flairs from the planet.
Proxima B is a perfect example of why as a scientific thinker one must express excitement yet restraint when hearing possibly paradigm shifting news, since we must not bee to short-sighted to observe that such news could be false, yet not too cynical to take joy in the wonder and mystery of the universe.