Proxima b: Space expert highlights the potential of exo-planet to sustain life

Proxima b: Space expert highlights the potential of exo-planet to sustain life

The search for Earth-like planets has dominated modern astronomy

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Space expert Greg Smye-Rumsby has told talkRADIO it could be possible to sustain life on Proxima b, but has warned there would be significant risks.

Scientists have revealed the newly discovered planet, an exo-planet four light years from Earth which orbits the closest star to our planet, Proxima Centauri, has the potential to support advanced life. 

It is in the 'habitable zone' of the star's orbit - not too far away to be too cold to sustain life, not close enough to be too hot. The time it takes to orbit the star is 11.2 days, dramatically shorter than Earth's own 365. 

Smye-Rumsby explained the planet is a strong contender for life, but also outlined the dangers posed by the star it orbits.

"It's at the distance from Promixa Centauri where if it had water, it would be in liquid form," he told Paul Ross. "You can only create life with liquid water.

"It doesn't mean there's life on it. But it does mean that if it does have an atmosphere, if it does have water, there's the rung you could step on to suggest there may be the conditions for life.

"But Proxima Centauri is a violent star. If Proxima b doesn't have a magnetic field, the DNA of any life-form would be ripped apart by the star's radiation."