Proxima Centauri is a star located in the constellation of Centaurus, at 4.25 light-years away from the Sun. Researchers are now talking about a new theory related to it, namely its similarities to our Sun. Although it is a cool star and not as bright as the Sun, science proves that the two stars do share some features.
The similarities between Proxima Centauri and the Sun are concerned with dark spots and the cycle of their appearance. It is widely known that there are some dark spots which appear on the Sun’s surface. They are called sunspots and emerge at the climax of the Sun’s eleven years cycle. There could be roughly one hundred such spots on its surface, covering about one percent of our Sun.
New research shows that a similar phenomenon occurs on Proxima Centauri too. The star undergoes a seven-years cycle. Despite the smaller sizes of the star and its cycle if compared to the Sun, the dark spots on Proxima Centauri are more active. More than one-fifth of its surface could be covered in starspots, as the black patches are called.
The dark spots on stars are contrasting with the bright areas surrounding them. They are also cooler than the rest of the star. However, they are temporary, which means they don’t last forever, but disappear at some point.
The recent findings of Proxima Centauri caught scientists by surprise. They didn’t think about this behavior of the star because they took into consideration its composition. They argue that the Sun’s interior is quite different from that of Proxima Centauri, and this is why they excluded the possibility of such similarities between the two stars.
Researchers explain that there are regions on the Sun where a boiling-like activity occurs, while other parts of its interior rest calm. The differences between these areas are what triggers the cycle. It was initially believed that Proxima Centauri didn’t feature such motion and differences between its layers.
Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star, which is quite common in our Milky Way. The star drew the attention of scientists once more, this summer when a new planet was confirmed near it. The planet was called Proxima Centauri B and was described as being similar to Earth regarding sizes.
One of the most important theories around Proxima Centauri and its neighboring planet is whether the planet is habitable or not. Researchers are discussing the possibility of a surface ocean on Proxima B and the ability of the planet to sustain life. However, the latest findings on the red dwarf don’t interfere with this potential ability, as the scientists suggest.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia