OCT 12, 2016 10:08 AM PDT

Does Proxima b Have a Global Ocean?

The mysterious world from the nearby system Proxima Centauri that we know as Proxima b was recently announced to be very Earth-like in structure and exist in the system’s habitable zone.
 

Does Proxima b have a global ocean covering its entire surface? New research suggests it might be possible.

 Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

It took the space research community by storm because it further increased our interest in studying another system up close. Of course, at 4.2 light years away, it’s still quite far away. Our best hope so far at getting there is with Stephen Hawking’s proposed Breakthrough Starshot initiative, which has had its fair share of criticisms.
 
Now, astronomers from the French National Center for Science Research suggest that the Proxima b may even have a global ocean, which means flowing liquid water could be present across the entire surface of the exoplanet. Their findings appear in an online paper.

If the planet wasn’t interesting already based off of what we already knew, then this just made things even more so.
 
Based off of the planet’s existence in its star’s habitable zone, this is big news, because it means the planet might be capable of supporting life forms of some kind, whether microbial or simplistic.
 
Looking at the exoplanet and trying to learn more about its mass and composition, researchers have found that Proxima b must have a minimum radius of 5,990 kilometers and probably has a very dense metal core like the Earth does.
 
We don’t know the exact radius of Proxima b, but based off of what we know, it’s somewhere between 5,990 and 8,919 kilometers. Comparatively, Earth’s radius is 6,371.
 
If Proxima b has a metal core like the Earth does, then most of its mass is found at the core, and the surrounding layers would have to be less dense, just like on Earth. If Proxima b is on the larger side of the radial figures discussed earlier, then a global liquid ocean up to 200 kilometers deep is a pretty good explanation for its mass/size ratio.
 
For now, all we have are mathematical figures. We have yet to be able to study Proxima b up close, and the only way we can confirm the exoplanet has a liquid ocean on its surface is to either study the planet as it transits its host star, or to send a spacecraft out there to study it.
 
Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable qualities of the system, it’s really hard to tell when the exoplanet is transiting across its host star’s surface, so this method may be out the window.
 
Either way, this is going to be a challenge, but if we’ve found Earth’s long-lost brother that’s capable of supporting life, it may still be worth exploring.
 
Source: CNRS (Google Translate)

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 18, 2018
Proposed CAESAR Mission Could Teach Us More About Comet 67P
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is one of the most captivating space rocks in the entire solar system, but we still don’t know very much about...
JUN 28, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 28, 2018
Stopping Bacterial Spores From Getting Into Space
Researchers want to stop the contamination of extraterrestrial environments by earthly bacteria....
AUG 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 19, 2018
Lockheed Martin Shows Off Deep-Space Habitation Module Concept
There’s more to deep-space missions than merely launching astronauts into outer space and saying “good luck!” The eventual goal necessita...
AUG 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 26, 2018
NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Snaps its First Picture of Bennu
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is now one step closer to realizing...
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
New Horizons Spacecraft Photographs its Next Flyby Target
Immediately following New Horizons’ historic Pluto fly-by in 2015, NASA began planning the spacecraft’s next fly-by mission. The space agency u...
SEP 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 11, 2018
Asteroid Mining Could Make Deep Space Missions Possible
  Deep space missions are faced with several challenges, including human safety and resource limitations, but asteroid mining could potentially solve...
Loading Comments...