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  • Any SUN super flare can wipe out Earth life

    Hydroloop Team | 30 Oct 2018
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    Are we too late? Nearby Earth-like exoplanet Proxima b slammed by SUPER FLARE that may have wiped out any possibility of alien life

    The ‘Earth-like’ exoplanet Proxima b was hit by a ‘superflare’ 10 times larger than any other ever seen, making the chances of any life surviving there slim, a new report reveals.

    Discovered in 2016, Proxima b orbits around the closest star to the sun, Proxima Centuari, and was hailed by astronomers as a suitable location for life forms — perhaps, even human life in the future.

    And at just four light years away, experts believe that it could be reached by spacecrafts in the future that can explore its surface.

    However, the massive solar flare, observed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, probably wiped out any life on the planet.

    Superflare
    Pictured is an artist’s impression of Proxima b, a rocky planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, a dim red dwarf star that is about 4.25 light years away from the sun

     

    The superflare made Proxima Centauri 68 times brighter than usual and may have exposed any life on its orbiting Proxima b planet to lethal levels of ultraviolet radiation.

    That’s because ‘sufficiently bright and frequent flares and any associated proton events may destroy the planet’s ozone layer, allowing lethal levels of UV flux to reach its surface,’ the astronomers wrote in a paper.

    Proxima Centauri’s ‘high stellar activity’, such as the solar flare, ‘casts doubt’ on the habitability of Proxima b, they added.

    The solar flare was observed in March 2016 by Evryscope, an array of telescopes that operates at UNC Chapel Hill.

    ‘The UV light produced by the Evryscope superflare therefore reached the surface with 100 times the intensity required to kill simple UV-hardy microorganisms, suggesting that life would struggle to survive in the areas of Proxima b exposed to these flares’, the study continues.

    Astronomers estimate that roughly five of these superflares occur each year.

    A graph measures the brightness of Proxima Centauri, depicting solar flare’s peak emission time. The superflare made Proxima Centauri 68 times brighter than usual, astronomers say

     

    Proxima Centauri is four light years (25 trillion miles) away from our solar system – a distance that could be reached by space travellers in the near future

     

    What’s more, scientists believe the extreme solar activity will likely reduce the ozone of Proxima b’s Earth-like atmosphere by 90% within five years.

    They estimate that the atmosphere will be completely depleted in just under a hundred thousand years.

    In the meantime, however, any remaining living organisms on Proxima b’s surface have needed to significantly adapt in order to survive.

    ‘Recent results have suggested that some more complex life such as lichens evolved for extreme environments and with adaptations such as UV-screening pigments may survive these radiation levels,’ the astronomers wrote in the report.

    ‘This suggests that life on Proxima b will have to undergo complex adaptations to survive, even if the planetary atmosphere survives the long-term impact of the stellar activity’.

    A size comparison of how Proxima will appear in the sky seen from Proxima b, compared to how the sun appears in our sky on Earth. Proxima is much smaller than the sun, but Proxima b lies very close to its star

     

    WHAT MAKES PROXIMA B UNIQUE?

    Distance: This is the closest Earth-like planet we could ever find.

    Orbiting our nearest star, the planet is only four light years away.

    Missions to send spacecraft to the planet to examine for signs of life are already in planning, and could happen within decades.

    Composition: The planet is rocky and a similar size to Earth.

    Temperature: It lies in the ‘habitable zone’ of its star, which means there could be liquid water on its surface – a key ingredient for alien life.

    The temperature on the surface of the planet could be between -90° and 30° Celsius (-130 and 86 Fahrenheit).

    Atmosphere: If Proxima b has an atmosphere, the simple ingredients – water, carbon dioxide, and rock – that are needed for the formation of biochemical cycles that we call life, could all be present and interacting on the planet’s surface.

    This isn’t the first time scientists have discovered Proxima b is susceptible to feeling the heat from massive solar flares.

    Earlier this year, researchers found that a huge solar flare in 2017 wiped any trace of aliens from the planet.

    At its peak, the flare from Proxima Centauri was 1,000 times brighter than the star normally is, and 10 times brighter than the largest flares from our sun.

    Astronomers believe Proxima b may have been hit with 4,000 times more deadly radiation than solar flares unleashed on the Earth.

    A November paper also found that stellar winds could also greatly reduce the chances of finding life on Proxima b.

    The range of temperatures on the surface of the planet Proxima b could be between -90° and 30° Celsius (-130 and 86 Fahrenheit)

     

    The two research papers published in Astrophysical Journal Letters reveal that stellar wind may have stripped many candidates of their chance at life.

    ‘Traditional definition and climate models of the habitable zone consider only the surface temperature,’ Chuanfei Dong of Princeton, who led the first study last November, said.

    The studies show that the stellar wind, a constant outpouring of charged particles that sweep out into space, could severely deplete the atmosphere of such planets over hundreds of millions of years, rendering them unable to host surface-based life as we know it.

    The researchers also found the habitable zone circling red stars could evolve over time, meaning the atmosphere could have eroded too soon, even if the exoplanet was protected by a strong magnetic field like the magnetosphere surrounding Earth.

    Our Sun may produce devastating super flares that can wipe out life on Earth

    If the sun produces a super flare, we are all doomed.
    A new study suggests that the Sun has the potential to produce super flares that could destroy the earth.

    When a super flare occurs?
    The super flare, just like standard flares, but much bigger, occurs when:
    enough  energy from a huge interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases enter the solar system heliosphere
    and attracted by the sun gravity,
    creating large magnetic fields on the surface of a star,
    collapse.

    These super flares are likely formed via the same mechanism as solar flares. If one occurred on the Sun, the collapse would cause the Sun to release gigantic amounts of energy and hot plasma that would strike earth with an intensity of up to a hundred times worse than the most powerful solar flare ever recorded.

    A super flare would severely disrupt our GPS and radio communication systems (TV, Mobile phone) as well as our power grids. It could also wipe out Earth’s atmosphere and thus this planet ability to support life.

    The largest solar eruption in recorded history, dubbed the Carrington event, struck the Earth in September 1859. The solar flare disrupted the telegraph system worldwide and damaged the planet ozone layer.

    Author/Researcher
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