back to article Cancel your summer trip to nearby Proxima b. No chance of life, room service, say boffins

NASA scientists have dashed hopes that Proxima Centauri b, an Earth-ish-like planet orbiting the closest star to the Sun, could be habitable. Last year, it emerged there was a rocky exoplanet, dubbed Proxima Centauri b, within Proxima Centauri's crucial Goldilocks zone – meaning there was an alien world in the sweet spot …

  1. Pen-y-gors

    The five year mission continues

    To seek out planets with shoals of goldfish and mango trees...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The five year mission continues

      I want to go to the planet with mangofish and gold trees...

    2. DropBear

      Re: The five year mission continues

      I'm more interested in planets with lustful green ladies. Blue is also fine, as is shiny spandex and / or scantily clad...

    3. Aladdin Sane

      Re: The five year mission continues

      That would be the islands of Fiji.

      1. Rich 11

        Re: The five year mission continues

        That would be the islands of Fiji which will be under three feet of water.

        1. Aladdin Sane

          Re: The five year mission continues

          Don't blame me, blame Dave Lister. It's his fantasy.

  2. unwarranted triumphalism


    I enjoyed reading Proxima by Stephen Baxter and found it fairly plausible.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    What about the time-share apartment I've just brought? Sounds like it's got as much atmosphere as Wigan on a wet Tuesday.

    1. Lotaresco

      "What about the time-share apartment I've just brought?"

      Where did you take it to? Was it one of those apartments in an ISO container that you can just relocate to anywhere at a moment's notice?

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge


    Beers all round for the sub-head.

  5. spaceyjase
    Paris Hilton

    Hypothetical question...

    I wanna know how Proxima Centauri b did in our local solar system.

    1. Rich 11

      Re: Hypothetical question...

      The moon fell onto it.

  6. James 51

    More or less

    See title.

  7. jjk

    "Radiation rays"?


    1. frank ly

      Re: "Radiation rays"?

      As opposed to various forms of fish, which can not live there, it seems.

    2. DropBear

      Re: "Radiation rays"?

      Dunno, they kinda sound all kinds of radical... Are they enveloped by a soft faint Cherenkov glow, or are they glistening in harsh neon tones...? Man, I so need to see a picture of that...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other words...

    ... its pretty similar to whats happened and is still happening to Mars. A failed magnetic field + lowish gravity = atmospheric loss due to ionisation by the sun.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: In other words...

      If a decent magnetic field is required then the next question is "To what extent does Earth owe its magnetic field to the large amounts of iron in its core that it pinched from Theia?". The old Drake equation might give a rather different answer if you had to insert a "has a collision with another planet early in its life" factor to the right-hand side.

  9. hi_robb

    Oh dear

    May I be the first 'not' to weclome our new Proxima b dwelling overlords :-(

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Proxima b’s atmospheric loss rates here are so high that habitability is implausible..."

    Yeah but, as long as it was still all inclusive, branded spirits of course not just local piss, I'm still up for it. Who's with me?

    1. DropBear

      Poolside with a cocktail under a cushy rad-filtering bio-dome? I'd say yes, but man... have you tried sitting in economy class for four damn years straight, best case...?

      1. Lobrau

        God forbid BA starts running flights out there. Probably wouldn't be so bad as you'd still be sat in the terminal

      2. mattje

        Not So Fast

        Our current fastest spacecraft - New Horizons (of Pluto fame), would take 78,000 years, so you might want to upgrade...

  11. davidp231
  12. andy gibson

    Frontier Elite 2

    Every time there's a "local" planetary discovery, I fire up Frontier Elite 2 to see what David Braben forecast:

  13. Bangem

    The very first part of the Drake Equation states: R = Rate of formation of suitable stars.

    Maybe we need to tweak that one to not include stars that spew vast amounts of spikey radiation burst.

    or at least calculate a value that negates that radiation by having a bloody good magnetic field

    Ne modified.

  14. johnnyblaze

    Not a clue

    One day, when we do make contact with a truly advanced civilization that make us look like we've just crawled out of the primordial soup, people like NASA will be sitting down for about 100 years eating nothing but humble pie. We think we're so clever, so advanced, so able to predict what's out there and how the universe works and hangs together. Believe me, we don't. We don't have the slightest clue. We stare out to space from earth-bound or orbiting telescopes, or listen to radio waves thinking we know the answer to this stuff. It's a farce really.

    1. Chris G

      Re: Not a clue

      You know all this, how exactly?

      I think they have a bit more than just a clue, even if if some of the educated guesses are wrong.

    2. Rich 11

      Re: Not a clue

      We don't have the slightest clue.

      On the contrary, we have quite a few clues and we're gathering more all the time.

      Where did you go to school? I want to know so that I don't accidentally send my kids there.

    3. Bandikoto

      Re: Not a clue

      Waiter, I'll have what he's smoking.

      Meanwhile, certain types continue to defecate all over our planet, as if they'll be magically transported to a paradise once earth is uninhabitable.

  15. A 15

    But what if it has a strong magnetic field

    It seems that with a stronger magnetic field, the atmosphere may survive for longer. I haven't read the paper properly, but in the discussion & conclusions section, the author also mentions that there are methods of atmospheric replenishment, which could keep it gassed up.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: But what if it has a strong magnetic field

      Surely this just means that the "Goldilocks Zone" is further out than previously thought? Does this mean that we need to head for Proxima-C or possibly -D instead?

  16. John Savard


    Well, on the frontiers of science, it's understandable that what was considered to be the most likely case will keep changing

    When Proxima Centauri b was first discovered, we were told that because Proxima Centauri was a flare star, it was unlikely for it to have an atmosphere, although some hope remained.

    But shortly afterwards, GJ 1132b, a planet around Gliese 1132, also a red dwarf star, was found to actually have an atmosphere. This was apparently a positive sign for Proxima Centauri, as it showed that red dwarf stars don't necessarily strip away the atmospheres of their planets. Of course, it might not have been similar enough to Proxima Centauri b for that to be relevant.

  17. RareToy

    Life a proxima_b

    So what you're saying is everybody is dead?

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Life a proxima_b

      No - they are all running off hard light drives with the letter H stamped on their foreheads.

    2. annodomini2

      Re: Life a proxima_b

      Yes Jim

  18. danny_0x98

    Proxima Centauri b ain't no kind of place to raise your kids,

    In fact it's cold as hell.

    (Apologies to Bernie Taupin and Sir Elton Jihn.)

    Better science, poorer scan.

  19. AceRimmer1980
    Thumb Up

    Smoke me a kipper

    I'll be back for breakfast.

  20. annodomini2

    It's a model

    So it could also be wrong, but it's not looking good, we'll have to wait for JWST to come online for a better chance.

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: It's a model

      " ... we'll have to wait for JWST to come online ..."

      So, maybe, if the USofA gets conquered by some civilisation, sometime in the forty-fifth century?

      JWST, flying cars, really useful Asimovan household robots, flying cars and fusion giving us power too cheap to meter.

      All coming "soon". All promised "within the next fifty years" for over seventy years.

  21. Tom Paine

    Original theme

    The original theme was much better... dark, moody and magnificent.

    That is all

  22. AceRimmer1980

    It was inhabitable, until they voted for Proxit.

  23. Conundrum1885

    New physics

    We don't yet know exactly how Jupiters field is generated.

    It is possible that a super earth might have a far stronger magnetic field than Earth for the same reason; as the geodynamo could contain radically different mixes of metals. Earth has nickel iron but it could just as easily be nickel iron cobalt, or have elements heavier than uranium which are even more effective for generating a truly monstrous field.

    I did some preliminary calculations suggesting that an earth sized planet is far below the minimum size for an effective field but suggesting we might be the exception rather than the rule.

    in fact aliens might ignore us because their astronomers are concentrating on systems with large rocky planets with a certain key metallic signature in the stars spectrum.

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: New physics

      " ... or have elements heavier than uranium which are even more effective for generating a truly monstrous field."

      According to the latest research, Einsteinium *might* be magnetic.

      Which isn't very useful as it is also rarer that altruistic politicians and just a teentsy bit radioactive.

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