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Current Affairs

Proxima Centauri

Date: 30 December 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

Astronomers running the world’s largest initiative to look for alien life have recently picked up radio wave emission from the direction of Proxima Centauri.

 

Background

The news has sparked renewed interest in Proxima Centauri, one of whose planets is believed to revolve in the star’s habitable zone.

 

Details

  • The beam picked up from the direction of Proxima Centauri has been named BLC1 or Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1and has two interesting characteristics.

  • First, its signal frequency is 982 Mhz– a narrow-band value that is not transmitted by human-made spacecraft or satellites.

  • Neither do we know of a natural astronomical phenomenon that can generate such a radio signal. Second, the apparent shift in this frequency is reportedly consistent with the movement of the planet.

  • This increases the possibility that the emission could be an alien signature that provides evidence of alien technology, and could have arisen from some form of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI).

  • There could be possibility that the signal could have been caused by something behind Proxima Centauri or by a natural phenomenon whose existence we so far do not know of.

Proxima Centauri

  • Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light-years away from the Sun and considered a close distance in cosmic terms. Its mass is about an eighth of the Sun’s, and it is too dim to be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

  • Proxima b is one of the two planets that revolve around the star and is the subject of significant curiosity. Its Size is 1.2 times larger than Earth and orbits its star every 11 days.

  • Proxima b lies in Proxima Centauri’s “Goldilocks zone”, meaning the area around a star where it is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets. 

  • Proxima b is tidally locked with its star, just like the Moon is to Earth– meaning one side of the planet has daylight forever, while the other side is always dark.

  • Scientists say that it is difficult to imagine that Proxima b could have a stable climatic system under such conditions.