Proxima Centauri b, the earth-sized exoplanet orbiting the closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, was once believed to have the potential to sustain life. The planet was believed to be in its solar systems Goldilock Zone which would allow for water to exist in liquid form. It turns out, however, our neighboring star isn’t as peaceful as we hoped.
In March 2017, the red dwarf exploded with radiation in the form of a stellar flare. In fact, Proxima Centauri increased its brightness by 1,000 times for duration of 10 seconds.
The amount of radiation that hit Proxima b could have done a real number on the planet’s ozone. In fact, the exoplanet was hit with 4,000 times more radiation than the Earth gets from out Sun.
Carnegie’s Meredith MacGregor argues in the academic journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters, that the likelihood of life on Proxima b is slim.
"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," said MacGregor.
Before you begin to mourn the loss of alien life, scientists question if life could ever have survived on that planet to begin with.
Or there was a thriving ecosystem that was completely wiped out before our eyes. Either way, your next vacation trip will probably not be Proxima Centauri b.