A team of researchers, coordinated by the Solar & Space Physics Team (SSPT) of the Physics Department of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and also composed of researchers from the ISMAR and ISAC institutes of the CNR Research Area Tor Vergata, has reconstructed the possible climate of the extrasolar rocky planet Proxima Centauri B orbiting the star Proxima Centauri, component of the triple star alpha centauri system, the closest to our solar system.
The research will help scientists both understand the climate and atmospheric dynamics of the Proxima B exoplanet, connected to the possibility of Proxima B host life forms, and facilitate its study through an estimate of the observability of climatic properties with future large Earth telescopes, such as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), or from space such as NASA's new James Webb Space Telescope (WEBB).
The study showed that the hottest point on the planet's surface, and perhaps the only one where surface life is possible, is not exactly at the sub-stellar point, but is further east of this region. This is probably due to the atmospheric superrotation associated with the rotational velocity of Proxima B. So if a biosphere is present on Proxima B, with the possibility of biological photosynthesis, it will be in the region near the sub-stellar point, a region that always looks to the star, at least in case the planet is synchronized as it happens between the Earth and the Moon. Unfortunately, for any inhabitants of Proxima B, this region would probably be below a mighty cloud system.
However, what has been envisaged must be confirmed (or refuted) by the observations. For this reason, the study not only analyzed the possible climate of Proxima B but also estimated the possible spectral "signature" of the climatic properties of the exoplanet, providing astrophysicists with the tools to determine the possible presence of this "hot" region on its surface.
The study was possible thanks to the collaboration of two research groups with decades of experience in solar astrophysics and Sun-Earth relations and Earth climatology that combined their expertise to study the climate on the extraterrestrial planet closest to Earth. PhD students from Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science Ph.D. Program between the Universities of Rome (Tor Vergata and Sapienza) were part of the research group with the collaboration of the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).
The result of this work was recently published in the scientific journal The Astrophysical Journal:"Three-dimensional Climate Simulations for the Detectability of Proxima Centauri b"
Daniele Galuzzo, Chiara Cagnazzo, Francesco Berrilli, Federico Fierli, and Luca Giovannelli.