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A Possibility: Proxima B an Ocean Planet

First Posted: Oct 28, 2016 06:00 AM EDT
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Recently, a rocky extrasolar planet with a mass similar to Earth was identified near Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our Sun. This newly discovered planet is named as Proxima B and is in an orbit that would allow the planet to have a liquid form on its surface. Thus, it has raised a question regarding the presence of habitat.

According to Space Daily, a study to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, led by a team of international researchers at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory has determined the properties and dimensions of the planet's surface which actually favors its habitability feature. The team states that Proxima could be an ocean planet, similar to that of subsurface oceans detected inside icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn.

As per a report published in the Space.com, the planet has a mass just 1.3 times that of the Earth with a surface covered by a single liquid ocean of 124 miles deep. Proxima has a planetary system consisting of at least one planet. Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf with a mass and radius that is only one-tenth of the Sun and thousand times smaller brightness than Sun. Hence, Proxima B can be placed in a habitable zone.

A very little has been known about Proxima B, especially about its radius. Proxima B yet is not known to be transit. But, if we know the exact mass of the planet, we can stimulate the behavior of the constituent materials. This method was used by a French-American team of researchers from the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory. Researchers also believe that Proxima B could be covered by a thin gas atmosphere as seen on Earth.

Proxima B can be classified a dense planet if its metal cores account for 65 percent of its mass. Researchers say that the UV rays and X-rays from the host star can leave the water prone to evaporation and future measurements of planetary abundances of heavy materials such as iron, magnesium, and silicon.

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