A rocky planet discovered in the “habitable” zone of the star nearest our Sun may be covered with oceans.

A rocky planet discovered in the “habitable” zone of the star nearest our Sun may be covered with oceans, researchers at France’s CNRS research institute said Thursday.

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A team including CNRS astrophysicist have calculated the size and surface properties of the planet dubbed Proxima b, and concluded it may be an “ocean planet” similar to Earth.

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Scientists announced Proxima b’s discovery in August, and said it may be the first exoplanet—planet outside our Solar System—to one day be visited by robots from Earth.

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The planet orbits within a “temperate” zone from its host star Proxima Centauri, some four light years from us.

It’s estimated to have a mass about 1.3 times that of Earth, and orbits about 7.5 million kilometres (4.6 million miles) from its star—about a tenth the distance of innermost planet Mercury from the Sun.

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“Contrary to what one might anticipate, such closeness doesn’t always mean that Proxima b’s surface is too hot” for water to exist in liquid form, said a CNRS statement.

Proxima Centauri is 1,000 times poorer than our Sun, which means Proxima b is at just the right distance for states to be possibly habitable and smaller

“The planet might very well sponsor liquid water on its surface, and thus also some kinds of life,” the statement said.

Measuring how much light they block out usually calculates the size of exoplanets, from Earth’s view, when they pass in front of their host star.

But no such passage of Proxima b has been found, so the team had to rely on simulations to estimate the makeup and radius of the planet.

They computed the radius was between 0.94 and 1.4 times that of Earth, which is 6,371 kilometres on average.
Supposing a minimal radius of 5,990 kilometers, the planet would be quite compact, with a metallic center making up two thirds of the whole planet’s mass, surrounded by a rocky mantle.

If there’s surface water, it wouldn’t bring more than 0.05 percent to the planet’s total mass, the team said—similar to Earth, where it’s about 0.02 percent.

With a radius of 8,920, in the bigger planet scenario kilometers , Proxima b the be of ‘s mass split 50-50 between a rugged . water heart and surrounding

“In this instance, Proxima b would be covered by one, liquid ocean 200 kilometers deep,” said the CNRS.
“In both instances, a thin, gassy atmosphere could encircle the planet, like on Earth, leaving Proxima b possibly habitable,” it reasoned.