Headline September 12, 2016/ ''' *MOTHER-EARTH - *EARTH - LIKE* '''


 *EARTH - LIKE* '''

THIS NEWLY DISCOVERED PLANET  is much closer to its parent star, about  five million miles away, than Earth is to the sun, 93 million miles.

Even Mercury,  the innermost planet of our solar system, is 36 million miles from the sun.

While Proxima b might be similar to Earth,  Proxima Centauri is very different from the sun. It belongs to a class of stars known as red dwarfs and has about 12% of the sun's mass and  1/600th its luminosity, so dim that it can't be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

Thus Proxima B, despite its closeness to the star, receives less warmth than earth, but enough that water could flow on the surface. Whether the planet has liquid water or an atmosphere is  ''pure speculation at this point,'' Dr. Anglada Escude said at a news conference.

If the planet formed close to the star, it could be dry and airless, but it might formed further out and migrated inward to its current orbit. it is also possible that the planet formed dry and was later bombarded by comets ice-rich asteroids.

''There are visible models and stories that lead to a viable Earthlike planet today,'' Dr Anglada-Escude said.

Even if it is habitable, scientists studying the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe spiritedly debate whether planets around these red dwarfs are a promising place to look.

Small stars are more erratic, especially during their youth, and eruptions off the star's surface could strip away the atmosphere from such planets. Levels of  X-rays and other high-energy radiation bombarding the planet would would be 100 times that on Earth, the scientists said.

The close orbit suggests that the rotation of the planet would probably be gravitationally locked by the star's pull. Just as the same side of the moon always faces Earth, one side of Proxima b is- probably eternally bright, always facing the star, while the other is ever dark.

Additional visible light observations further convinced the scientists that they were not being fooled by variations in the star itself erroneously mimicking the presence of a planet.

The discovery was more than a decade and half in the making. Michael Endl, an astronomer of the  University of Texas and one of the authors of the Nature paper, peered at Proxima Centauri for eight years beginning in 2000, looking for a hints of a planet. 

''At that time, I didn't see anything highly, highly significant,'' Dr. Endl said in an interview. ''Then we published our data and moved on.''

Later, Anglada-Escoude  analyzing data from a different instrument on a different telescope, found inconclusive hints of a planet. he reached out to Dr. Endl to reanalyze the earlier data. 

He also spearheaded the Pale Red Dot project, which attempted to observe Proxima Centauri every day for two months earlier this year.  

The new observation clearly revealed the 11-2 day period of the planet, and the signal matched what Dr. Anglada-Escude had suspected earlier. It also matched a signal that was hidden in the noise of Dr. Endl's data, which was lower in precision and observed Proxima Centauri only once a week or so, not every day.

There are hints of perhaps another planet, perhaps more, and those hints are still ambiguous, the scientists said.

The discovery could provide impetus for  planet-finding telescopes. Rusian Belikov of the  NASA Ames Research Center   in Mountain View, Calif, has proposed a small space telescope, costing less than $175 million, dedicated to search for planets in Alpha Centauri.

While it would not be powerful enough to spot  Proxima b, its existence would give more confidence that terrestrial planets also orbit the two sunlike stars there.

''It just raises the public awareness there's a new world just next door,'' Dr. Belikov said. ''It's a paradigm shift in people's minds.'' 

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and !E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

'''The World Refreshed'''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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