Exoplanet Near Earth’s Nearest Star Might Have Been Scorched by Gigantic Solar Flare

“It’s likely that Proxima b was blasted by high energy radiation during this flare. Over the billions of years since Proxima b formed, flares like this one could have evaporated any atmosphere or ocean and sterilized the surface, suggesting that habitability may involve more than just being the right distance from the host star to have liquid water.”

- Meredith MacGregor, Ph.D., Astronomer, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D. C.

March 6, 2018 Albuquerque, New Mexico - A year ago on March 24, 2017, one of Earth's nearest stars beyond our own sun — Proxima Centauri — unleashed a solar flare that grew in brightness by 1,000 times in ten seconds compared to the normal Proxima Centauri sun. The enormous hot flare lasted for approximately one minute. All that heat and light must have scorched nearby exoplanet Proxima b, a planet 30% more massive than Earth, which orbits near Proxima Centauri.

 

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