PROXIMA b!

In a story via the ESO and APOD I have read about

PROXIMA b

That cool sounding name is the newly spotted planet orbiting the very closest star to your planet other than your yellow sun.  Proxima Centauri can’t be seen with your unaided human eyes, unlike the brighter cousins Alpha Centauri AB.  Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf.  Proxima b orbits at some 5% Earth/Sun distance, so it is closer to its sun than Mercury is to your yellow ball.  However, since it is relatively cool, it is in a distance zone that could permit water.  Being only some 4 lightyears out, it is within range of relatively real-time communication, with a turn around time of only 8 years and change.

This has me thinking about the book by Michael O’Brien Voyage To Alpha Centauri, in which the author makes his remarkably able first foray into sic fi.  US HERE – UK HERE  Or read it on a Kindle.

There are some pretty harrowing points in O’Brien’s book… harrowing to anyone paying attention to what is going on here and now, that is.   As with most of his books, he could stand to listen to an editor a bit more.  But it is a great read.

Proxima b!

I have a short story in my head already.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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4 Responses to PROXIMA b!

  1. iamlucky13 says:

    “That cool sounding name is the newly spotted planet orbiting the very closest star to your planet other than your yellow sun.”

    Technically, it hasn’t been spotted. It was detected because just like the stars gravity pulls on the planet, the planet’s gravity pulls on the star. This results in a very slight wobble in the star’s motion as the planet circles it. Detecting that wobble is fairly advanced science that has only first accomplished about 25 years ago. Finding planets in the same size-ballpark as earth is particularly challenging.

    More relevantly, discoveries like this usually shake loose a series of silly comments from atheists about how the idea of life beyond earth somehow must contradict Christianity. I find such comments oddly refreshing, as the reasoning behind them reveals how little critical thought most non-Christians have actually given our faith.

    More trivia for the interested:
    Red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri are expected to result in habitable environments very different from Earth’s. For one, the habitable zone is much closer in, resulting in much shorter years. Proxima B has a year that is only 11 days long. For another, the planet is almost certain to be tidally locked to its star – it doesn’t rotate relative to the star, so one side experiences constant light, the other side constant darkness, and other areas constant twilight. If there’s an atmosphere, this persistent imbalance of heating is expected to cause unceasing strong winds throughout the twilight zones.

    While about half of our sun’s output is in the visible spectrum, and most of the rest in the near infrared range that provides the main sensation of sunlight’s warmth, for a red dwarf like Proxima Centauri, usually less than 5% of its output is visible light. As a result, daytime would not seem very bright to us, but to a creature that could see in infrared (like pit vipers), it would. It would also feel surprisingly warm relative to the brightness. Any life analogous to plants would almost certainly be differently colored compared to on earth for the same reason.

  2. LuxPerpetua says:

    Our Lady of Proxima B, pray for us!

  3. LuxPerpetua says:

    Mass in space would have to be a missa sicca, or “dry Mass,” considering the phenomenon of zero gravity and all. Eventually there will be an insult for this.

  4. LuxPerpetua says:

    My apologies, the above comment should read “indult”. Silly auto-correct.