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Potential Abundance of Water in Proxima B Increases Chance of Habitability, Alien Life

Oct 26, 2016 08:31 AM EDT
German Astronaut Alexander Gerst Aboard The International Space Station
Scientists presented new findings about the potentially habitable planet Proxima B. The exoplanet may have vast ocean deposits making it more suitable to sustain life.
(Photo : Alexander Gerst / ESA via Getty Images)

Last August, the European Space Observatory (ESO) shocked the world with its announcement that a potentially habitable planet was discovered orbiting a star in Alpha Centauri. Proxima b, also called second Earth, still baffles scientists until today. And if the exoplanet indeed has an abundance of water inside, then it will increase the "suitanability" for human habitation and in finding alien life.

Alpha Centauri, where the star Proxima Centauri is found, is the nearest star system to Earth. This is the reason why ESO's announcement caused an excitement because of the system's proximity to Earth. Currently, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is developing a nanocraft that can travel to the star system in 20 years.

Today, the chance of Proxima b hosting human life is being investigated thoroughly by scientists. Although its ability to sustain life still remains uncertain, scientists believe that they are a step closer to the conclusion.

To understand the exoplanets better, scientists will have to dissect everything about Proxima b. It is located in Alpha Centauri within the "Goldilocks Zone," a region located at just about the right distance to the Sun to sustain life. It also has an atmosphere that makes it all the more interesting.

There is no exact calculation of the exoplanet's diameter yet, but some new update on Proxima b was presented during the American Astronomical Division for Planetary Sciences in California. It was discovered that Proxima b might be dry with a potential metallic core made up of iron and silicate. However, another theory, and a more exciting one at that, suggests that the exoplanet, like Earth, may have big oceans covered with ice. If thus is true, it will drastically increases the exoplanet's potential to sustain life, according to a report.

There a four major theories about Proxima b: one says it is dry, while three others suggest there's water on the so-called second Earth. These conflicting theories call for more studies and investigations to find out if the exoplanets have ocean deposits.

Scientists believe that these new discoveries take us closer to the truth and that mankind will have an answer in the next decade.


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