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Star serves up a planet


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/03/05

The star Proxima Centauri, on March, 2017, produced a massive solar flare. The evidence comes from new analysis of observations of it. That big flare is an issue for its orbiting satellites, planets and so on.

One of closest planets, Proxima b, did not likely have a good go of it, if thinking in terms of potential life on the planet. The star brightened by 10³ times in only 10 seconds with a rapid dimming again. Quite remarkable.

Proxima b, compared to the Earth, is far, far closer to its own solar system’s star. It receives about 4*10³ more radiation than the Earth from its own solar flares, from the Sun.

It simply doesn’t compare in scale, really. MacGregor, one of the researchers in the paper, said, “If there are flares like this at all frequently, then [the exoplanet] is likely not in the best shape.”

That planet is one of the places hoped-for to have life on it. It is only 4 light years away and a potential candidate to find our cosmic cousins. Its own mass is comparable to Earth’s and has temperature likely suitable for water.

The star is a M dwarf or a star class prone to notorious flares that can rip the atmosphere right from the surface of the planet, including Proxima b.

It took analysis and later re-analysis by two separate teams, respectively, to see that the solar flare was in fact a solar flare and not another solar system occurrence. Hopefully, Proximarians (of the b type) didn’t have to move planet.


Anglada, G. et al. (2017, November 15). ALMA Discovery of Dust Belts around Proxima Centauri. Retrieved from

Grossman, L. (2018, March 5). Massive stellar flare may have fried Earth’s nearest exoplanet. Retrieved from

MacGregor, M. et al. (2018, February 26). Detection of a Millimeter Flare from Proxima Centauri. Retrieved from


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