Earth Climate Models Bring Exoplanet To Life

Earth Climate Models Bring Exoplanet To Life


There’s a planet in our galaxy that scientists are really excited about. In fact, it’s the closest Earth-sized planet outside our solar system, it’s probably rocky, and could have liquid water flowing on its surface – an essential ingredient for life. There’s only one problem. We can’t actually see it and it’s impossible to get to. To get to Proxima Centauri B, it would take a spacecraft over 75,000 years to travel there with today’s technology. Even powerful ground-based telescopes can’t see the planet in any detail mostly because it’s being drowned out by the light of its star. This raises the question: How do we investigate a planet that you can’t see and you can’t get too? This supercomputer is tasked with running sophisticated climate models to predict Earth’s future climate. It’s loud, you can feel air rushing by, you can feel a hum in the room It feels powerful. It’s one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. And now, it might be scientists’ only hope for discovering whether any of these newly discovered planets could possibly sustain life. Last year, a team at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City decided to investigate further. What happens when you take a possibly rocky planet situated in its solar system’s habitable zone and simulate hypothetical climates based on the only planet we know of with life – Earth. We only know basic details about Proxima Centauri B Its size, mass, distance from its star, and type of star it orbits. And that’s it. Right out of the gate, Proxima B has some problems. It’s 20 times closer to its star, Proxima Centauri, than Earth is to its Sun This means it’s likely gravitationally locked to it, just like the Moon is gravitationally locked to the Earth. As a result, one side of Proxima b always faces its sun’s intense radiation, while the other freezes in the darkness of space. But slap on a hypothetical atmosphere on the planet and fill it with an ocean, and Proxima B virtually comes alive. Here’s where this gets interesting. We’re looking at the side of Proxima Centauri B that’s facing its star, so it’s the warmer side. In this simulation, the modelers gave the planet a global ocean. The ocean circulates heat around the planet through ocean currents that are produced by the planet’s rotation, just as we see on Earth. The ocean current actually carries warm water to the side of the planet without starlight, and up towards the poles. This creates a characteristic pattern of ice covered ocean similar to our own North Pole versus ice-free ocean – a pattern we would see on any rotating ocean-covered planet. In this simulation, modelers use Earth’s continents as a stand-in to predict what would happen if most of the land was on the side of the planet facing away from its star. How much land might be covered in ice, and how might ocean currents interact with land masses when transferring heat? Conversely, if most of the continents faced the warmth of its star how much incoming radiation would actually be absorbed by the ocean, and how could this affect the planet’s dayside and nightside temperatures? So those are some of the tricks we play. We give it different kinds of atmospheres, and see how the planet responds, the climate responds to that because we really want the planet to be in what we call the habitable zone where it would have liquid water on its surface. And so that’s the game we play. Scientists are finding these exoplanets could actually have the ingredients to support life under a range of surprising conditions compared to Earth. Is it possible that our notions of what make a planet suitable for life are too limiting? Had alien civilizations pointed their telescopes toward Earth billions of years ago expecting to find a blue planet swimming in oxygen, they would have found a much different world. We definitely look at Earth through time. We might try different topographies, different land sea masks. For example, you know, the topography we have on Earth is not the topography Earth had 250 million years ago. With money and time both limited resources, scientists are looking for the most promising planets to point their observatories at. Proxima Centauri B may offer a blueprint for what to look for in a planet in the near future.

28 thoughts on “Earth Climate Models Bring Exoplanet To Life”

  1. Why not just block the light to the parent star, so you can see the reflected light of the planet. That might be enough at least to get a spectra or something

  2. Can we like not put our expectations that these exoplanets in the habitable zone are planets with life. They could have experienced a asteroid collision or an global ice age, so when need to think about that.

  3. Earth Climate Models are junk. A scientist via the U.N warned us in 1989, that we had until the year 2000 to sort out CO2 emissions. Now we don't believe that science! The crazy continues, and kids are getting sucked into the 2030 hype! Moving goal posts is "science" for suckers.

  4. To predict the climate with super computers… just gives you a faulty result much faster..!! It's to complex and advanced to be calculated. What the IPCC still not has understood at all..!!

  5. I really want to become an Astrobiologist work when I grow up. I’m 15 but UNFORTUNATELY I’m bad at math😐. But I WILL get better I’m at determined.

  6. I truly hope we find life beyond earth in my lifetime. Sentient life or even single celled organisms. I’d be happy with either.

  7. Daily reminder that Venus is also in the habitable zone of the sun. Unfortunately, we know nothing about this planet.

  8. So….its oceans circulate due to its rotation…… but it's locked to its star and thus doesn't rotate? Maybe pick one or the other?

  9. Straight away you got a big problem " we really wanted it to be on habitual zone " and that's your problem when modelling climate

  10. Interesting! I am looking forward to more research on the global climates of potentially-habitable tidally-locked planets.

  11. We can send a satellite let it reach after 75,000 years and send data to the space station. If someone or anyone of our generation surving till that day will be atleast remembering us that his/her ancestors that is us had discovered it just like we've Nostradamus or Aryabhatta's predictions which was said decades ago have come true today. Please do mention my name on the same for the sake of remembrance at the least. I'm sure it'll make us all the best Homosapiens species survivors of today.
    I'm proud to be Indian.
    जय हिन्द।🙏

  12. Why no mention of a magnetic core, necessary to generate an electromagnetic field that repels harmful radiation? Earth's Van Allen belts perform this function. Without them we would fry. So, adequate water and moderate temperatures are necessary for life as we know it, but without a magnetic core the planet would be too dangerous.

  13. A questão de um planeta extra solar inquieta-nos a todos…que fará aos cientistas?? A descoberta parece uma miragem …simulando vamos tirando ilações …à procura incessante de um planeta, se calhar esta onde menos se espera?!! Estes planetas são enigmas o maior e que de tantos não há um igual ao nosso?!! Lá diz o proverbio água mole em pedra dura tanto bate até que fura!! Sem desistir…

  14. Notice how the narrator says that this planet is impossibly far away for us to get to. What she doesn't state is this is the closest star system to us. Still too far away.

  15. Can climate control do this for real? If this change was effected would it increase its rotation so it would no longer be trial locked?

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