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Breezing through the space environment of Barnard & # 39; s Star b

Breezing through the space environment of Barnard & # 39; s Star b

A diagram of the star systems closest to the sun (the year in which the distance was determined is in parentheses). Astronomers have concluded that the planet that orbits Barnard's Star could have an atmosphere even though the star is a M dwarf, a star that normally produces strong winds and adverse space weather. Credit: NASA / Penn State University

The closest exoplanet to us, if we only include individual stars like the Sun, is the planet around Barnard's Star, Barnard's B-Star ("BSb"). (The planet Promixa Centauri-b is closer, but Proxima Cen is part of a triple star system with Alpha and Beta Centauri, and understanding the evolutionary development of the planet is more complicated). BSb orbits at a distance similar to Mercury's around the Sun, but Barnard's Star is a cool M dwarf star, so even though the planet is close to the star, it is probably near the star's line. snow, the distance where the star radiation is weak enough to allow the volatile elements to condense on the surface of the planet. This makes BSb a particularly interesting planet and, possibly, a cornerstone for future progress that includes the formation of planets and atmospheric evolution.

Extreme stellar activity and winds, especially in M ​​dwarf stars, play an important role in the development of a planet and its atmosphere. This type of activity is linked to the magnetic activity of a star, but unfortunately the models can not yet predict how the initial atmospheric conditions evolve in environments of intense radiation. However, progress has been made using simple models. In the case of Proxima Centauri b, scientists have found that it is probably subject to wind pressures ten thousand times greater than those that occur on Earth. Could the effects of the stellar wind also be interrupting any atmosphere in Barnard's Star B?

The astronomers of CfA, Julián Alvarado-Gómez, Cecilia Garraffo, Jeremy Drake and Sofía Moschou and their colleagues conclude otherwise. Scientists point out that BSb is much further away from its star than Promixa Cen b, well outside the domain of the star's corona. In addition, an analysis of the Barnard Star rotation and other properties implies that it is much older, between about seven and ten billion years, and any magnetic field process should be considerably smaller. Astronomers conclude that although today the planet Barnard & # 39; s Star b may have a relatively mild spatial climate (comparable, however, to the Earth's poor spatial meteorological conditions), in its early years it probably suffered a significant disruption . Today, however, BSb could retain an atmosphere that could be studied.

The weather forecast for Proxima Centauri B

More information:
Julián D. Alvarado-Gómez et al. Breezing through the space environment of Barnard & # 39; s Star b. arXiv: 1901.00219 [astro-ph.SR]. arxiv.org/abs/1901.00219

Provided by
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Breezing through the space environment of Barnard & # 39; s Star b (2019, April 15)
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