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This is What Our Nearest Exoplanet May Look Like - A Giant Eye Staring at the Sun
The nearest exoplanet ever has been observed, but not yet seen. Is this what the 'Earth Next Door' looks like?
Donald Who? Centuries after this era's headlines are forgotten, 2016 will be remembered as the year we discovered our 'Planet B'.
Because even if we find a billion more Earth-like exoplanets, none will ever be closer to home than Proxima Centauri b, spotted circling our nearest star (1) on August 24th of last year. At a mere 4.25 light-years away, it is close enough for us to contemplate visiting, and perhaps even living there.
One of the few things we know about Proxima b, besides that it is a rocky planet with a mass 1.3 times that of Earth, is that its orbit is in the so-called 'Goldilocks zone' of its sun: not too hot nor too cold for liquid water, making it a potential host for life – alien, human or both.
So what does this 'Earth Next Door' look like? We don't really know. Planet B has only been observed indirectly, via Doppler spectography. If we sent a spacecraft there tomorrow, it would take decades for it to get there and send home pictures.
But we can speculate. And this is what Proxima B could very well look like: an 'Eyeball Earth'.
Eyeball Earth: it sounds weird and it is weird. Tidally locked with its sun, an Eyeball Earth consists of three extreme climatic zones – scorchingly hot on the permanent day side, icy cold on the permanent night side. In between, ringing the planet: a thin, potentially habitable strip.
This setup gives the planet the appearance of an eyeball. Permanently staring into the sun.
The concept of an Eyeball Earth was kicked off by the discovery in 2010 of Gliese 581g, in the Goldilocks zone of its parent star, a red dwarf. Scientists speculated this planet type, occurring around red dwarfs, would be the likeliest candidate for life to evolve on.
Red dwarfs, a.k.a. M stars, make up around 75% of the stars in our galaxy. They are smaller and dimmer than our own sun, so their Goldilocks zone is much closer by than in our case (our sun is a yellow dwarf). Hence the tidal lock (2).
A year on Proxima b only lasts 11.2 Earth days. That's how long the planet takes to revolve around its sun - our nearest star Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf about one-seventh the diameter of our sun, and one-eighth the mass. The planet's distance from its sun is only 7.5 million km, or 1/20th of the Earth's orbit around the sun. So our Planet B could very well be an Eyeball Earth.
But will we really have to get there to be sure? Some scientists hope that the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched in 2018, will be able to deliver some answers. Whether it is in fact tidally locked with its sun, for example. And, crucially, whether it has an atmosphere. If so, life is possible – in that 'ring of habitability', between the planet's hot and cold halves, their extremes mitigated by the atmosphere's redistribution of heat. Without an atmosphere, Proxima b might be a lifeless rock after all.
Astronomers only started detecting exoplanets – i.e. planets outside our own solar system – in the 1990s. By now, they've identified as many as 3,000, plus another 2,500 possible ones. In 2013, it was estimated there could be about one billion 'Earths' in our galaxy. If the presence of Proxima b at our nearest star is an indication of their prevalence – i.e. at least one around each star – we could be looking at as many as 500 billion 'Earths' in our galaxy.
That's a lot of eyeballs. Next time you're under the stars at night, looking up at the Milky Way, just think of all those stares in your direction. Perhaps even literally. Who knows, in that habitable strip on Proxima b, somebody might be aiming a telescope at us, to check whether our rock has an atmosphere.
Strange Maps #801
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
(1) A top ten of closest stars:
1 Proxima Centauri (4.25 ly) – in the same star system as the next two.
2 Alpha Centauri A (4.36 ly) – the main star in Centaurus, a constellation in the southern sky.
2 Alpha Centauri B (4.36 ly) – slightly smaller and less luminous than both our sun and Centauri A.
4 Barnard's Star (5.96 ly) – the closest star in the Northern Hemisphere.
5 Luhman 16A (6.59 ly) – the primary in a binary brown-dwarf constellation, discovered only in 2013.
5 Luhman 16B (6.59 ly) – orbits its companion star at a distance of about 3 AU, with a period of about 25 years.
7 WISE 0855−0714 (7.20 ly) – located in the constellation Hydra, its discovery was announced in 2014 by the people that also brought you #5.
8 Wolf 359 (7.78 ly) – with a cool name like that, it's no wonder this star crops up in lots of sci fi, from Terry Pratchett to Star Trek.
9 Lalande 21185 (8.29 ly) – a red dwarf in the constellation Ursa Major.
10 Sirius A (8.58 ly) – main star of a binary system that is the brightest object in the night sky
10 Sirius B (8.58 ly) – a white dwarf much smaller than Sirius A, with which it is locked in a 50-year orbit.
(2) Like the Moon with the Earth, which is why we only ever see one side of our natural satellite. The Moon's other side gets as much sunlight as the Earth-facing side. It is only 'dark' in the sense that is was unknown for so long (the Soviets had it mapped by 1960).
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Humans are particularly prone to shiver when a group does or thinks the same thing at the same time.
A few years ago, I proposed that the feeling of cold in one's spine, while for example watching a film or listening to music, corresponds to an event when our vital need for cognition is satisfied.
Certain colors are globally linked to certain feelings, the study reveals.
- Color psychology is often used in marketing to alter your perception of products and services.
- Various studies and experiments across multiple years have given us more insight into the link between personality and color.
- The results of a new study spanning 6 continents (30 nations) shows universal correlations between colors and emotions around the globe.
The root of color psychology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e40cf62fa8922fcca6c57e2fcb215b6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OM4fXB23pCQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>There is a very likely chance you've even been "fooled" by color marketing in the past, or you've chosen one product over another subconsciously due to colors that were designed to influence your emotions.<br></p><p>Companies that want to be known for being dependable often use blue in their logos, for example (Dell, HP, IBM). Companies that want to be perceived as fun and exciting go for a splash of orange (Fanta, Nickelodeon, even Amazon). Green is associated with natural, peaceful emotions and is often used by companies like Whole Foods and Tropicana. </p><p><strong>Your favorite color says a lot about your personality. </strong></p><p>Various studies and experiments across multiple years (<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49595886_Personality_Traits_and_Colour_Preferences" target="_blank">2010</a>, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12087" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2014</a>, <a href="http://oaji.net/articles/2015/1170-1448038739.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015</a>, and more recently in <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824#modern-research-on-color-psychology" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019</a>) have given us more insight into the link between your personality and your favorite color.</p><p>Red, for example, is considered a bold color and is associated with feelings such as excitement, passion, anger, danger, energy, and love. The personality traits of this color might be someone who is bold, a little impulsive, and who loves adventure. </p><p>Orange, on the other hand, is considered representative of creativity, happiness, and freedom. The personality traits of this color can be fun, playful, cheerful, nurturing, and productive. Read more about color psychology and personalities <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/color-personality-psychology?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self">here</a>.</p>
Study reveals which colors best suit which emotions around the globe<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYzMTk5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc4OTg5OH0.bY-pu-MFNivdJLDJuBp9TBKrhwuy7hngUa1aIWxQMVw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="33fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1a5d7bb00dac94bd6201616789fb4882" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of color psychology how colors make us feel color emotions" />
Certain colors are globally ties to certain emotions, the study reveals.
Image by agsandrew on Shutterstock<p>In this particular survey, participants were asked to fill out an online questionnaire which involved assigning 20 emotions to 12 different color terms. They were also asked to specify the intensity with which they associated the color term with the emotion.</p><p><strong>Certain colors are globally linked to certain emotions, the study reveals.</strong></p><p>The results of this study showed a few definite correlations between colors and emotions throughout the globe. Red, for example, is the only color that is strongly associated with both negative (anger) and positive (love) feelings. Brown, on the other end of the spectrum, is the color that triggers the fewest emotions globally.<br></p><p>The color white is closely associated with sadness in China, while purple is what is closely associated with sadness in Greece. This can be traced back to the roots of each culture, with white being worn at funerals in China and dark purple being the Greek Orthodox Church's color of mourning. </p><p>Yellow is more associated with joy, specifically in countries that see less sunshine. Meanwhile, its association with joy is weaker in areas that have greater exposure to sunshine. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910150247.htm" target="_blank">According to Dr. Oberfeld-Twistel</a>, it is difficult to say exactly what the causes for global similarities and differences are. "There is a range of possible influencing factors: language, culture, religion, climate, the history of human development, the human perceptual system."</p>