A massive coronal explosion on Proxima Centauri has been detected simultaneously by three space-based observatories Astrosat, Chandra, Hubble Space Telescope and a ground-based observatory HARPS.
The explosion was detected on May 31 during a planned joint multi-wavelength simultaneous observational campaign by these observatories studying the ‘Proxima Centauri’ group of stars which hosts an Earth-like habitable planet — Proxima Centaur b — orbiting within (Proxima Centauri) its habitable zone.
The exercise to investigate the fate of this Earth-like planet orbiting the ‘Proxima Centauri’, around 4.25 light years away from the Sun, involved an international team of scientists.
“During the observations, a strong flare was observed by all our space-based participating telescopes,” said Dr Christian Schneider of Hamburger Sternwarte (HS), Germany.
‘Proxima Centauri’ is a well-known flaring star where a large amount of energy is released as a result of magnetic reconnection and such stars (like Proxima Centauri) are known to flare on timescales of a few minutes to hours.
The team is now investigating the characteristics of this flaring event to understand the propagation of such energetic events and effects on the orbiting planetary world.
“Such powerful and frequent flaring events may produce large radiations and particles which may significantly influence the atmosphere of the Proxima Centauri b and affect its habitability,” added Professor Jürgen Schmitt of HS, Germany.
In the search for planets beyond our solar system, especially habitable worlds, the biggest hope could be in cool dwarf stars, which comprise nearly 75 per cent of our galaxy, making them the most common planet host stars.