According to researchers, the ‘second Earth,’ aka Proxima B has vast oceans covering its surface and may harbor ‘alien life.’ Experts from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) concluded that it si very likely that the rocky planet –discovered in the habitable zone of its star— is covered by oceans.
Researchers discovered Proxima B in August and believe it is the first exoplanet that is within our ‘reach’.
The alien world is located just over 4 light-years from Earth. It is believed to have a mass 1.4 times that of Earth and orbits its host star at a distance of 7.5 million kilometers, which is one-tenth of the distance between Mercury and our Sun, or 5 percent the distance between our planet and the Sun.
Proxima B takes just 11.2 days to complete an orbit around its host star.
“Contrary to what one might expect, such proximity does not necessarily mean that Proxima B’s surface is too hot’ for water to exist in liquid form,” said a CNRS statement.
The Host Star –Proxima Centauri—is smaller and around 1000 times weaker when compared to our sun. This, in turn, means that Proxima B is at the ‘perfect’ distance for conditions to be potentially habitable on its surface.
“The planet may very well host liquid water on its surface, and therefore also some forms of life,” the statement said.
Researchers believe that Proxima B has a surface temperature that could range between -90° and 30° Celsius, -130 and 86 Fahrenheit.
When studying the size of exoplanets, experts usually measure how much light an exoplanet’s blocks out as it passes in front of its host star from Earth’s perspective.
However, this transit has still not been spotted by scientists, so experts had to rely on computer simulations in order to estimate the composition and exact radius of the planet.
Researchers discovered –based on simulations— that the planet’s radius was 0.94 and 1.4 times that of Earth, averaging over 6,000 kilometers.
Assuming Proxima B has a minimum radius of 5,990 km, experts estimate that the planet would be extremely dense, having a metallic core which makes up around two-thirds of the plant’s mass, and is surrounded by a rocky mantle.
In addition, if there is liquid water on the surface, it would not contribute to more than 0.05 percent of the entire planet’s mass.
In a different scenario, where the exoplanet has a radius of around 8,920 km, the planet’s mass would be divided 50-50 between being a rocky world surrounded by water.
The statement from CNRS said: “In this case, Proxima b would be covered by a single, liquid ocean 200 km deep. In both cases, a thin, gassy atmosphere could surround the planet, like on Earth, rendering Proxima b potentially habitable,” it concluded.