ALMA | NRAO | NAOJ | ESO | 2018 Feb 26
Puts habitability of nearby system into question
Space weather emitted by Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our sun, may make that system rather inhospitable to life after all.
Using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a team of astronomers discovered that a powerful stellar flare erupted from Proxima Centauri last March. This finding raises questions about the habitability of our solar system’s nearest exoplanetary neighbor, Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri.
At its peak, the newly recognized flare was 10 times brighter than our sun’s largest flares, when observed at similar wavelengths. Stellar flares have not been well studied at the millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths detected by ALMA, especially around stars of Proxima Centauri’s type, called M dwarfs, which are the most common in our galaxy. ...
The flare increased Proxima Centauri’s brightness by 1,000 times over 10 seconds. This was preceded by a smaller flare; taken together, the whole event lasted fewer than two minutes of the 10 hours that ALMA observed the star between January and March of last year. ...
Detection of a Millimeter Flare from Proxima Centauri - Meredith A. MacGregor et al