The question of whether life exists on other planets has been one of the most important questions for scientists for many decades.
The conditions for life on Earth to flourish are very specific and it took hundreds of millions of years to coincide for it to develop and maintain itself.
The closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri is a small star of the Red Dwarf type, much smaller than our sun, and around it are several planets, one of which was discovered a few years ago and scientists found that it has similar characteristics to the earth.
Proxima B, as this planet has been called is slightly larger than Earth and is probably rocky and more importantly, it is in the Habitable Zone. This means that Proxima B is at a sufficient distance from its star to contain and maintain liquid water on its surface and therefore host possible life.
Proxima Centauri is barely 15% of the radius of our sun, this means that for Proxima B to be within the habitable zone must be at a much closer range to its star than we are to ours.
But the activity of this star is intense, the energy rays that emerge from its surface are more constant and powerful than those of the sun, which is why Proxima B faces a much more hostile environment than we do.
Using special telescopes, the scientists were able to identify that the flashes of this star increase almost 10,000 times in a few seconds and therefore the possible life on that planet could be affected by that intense energy level.
The effects could not necessarily be negative, the scientists acknowledge that ultraviolet rays could even cause the ideal conditions for organic material to take shape and stay alive even in an environment more complicated than ours.
For this reason, the hopes of finding some form of life on this “nearby” planet remain even though scientists are also aware that these ultraviolet flares also damage the atmosphere of that planet and that with a weaker atmosphere, the possibilities of life are almost none.
“We hope the folks who build models of planetary atmospheres can take what our team has learned about these flares and try to figure out the odds for an atmosphere being sustained on this planet,” said Parke Loyd, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and co-author of the paper.
The studies will have to continue, but we are sure that during the next few years we will finally be able to confirm if there is life in this neighboring planetary system. We might not be so alone in the universe.