Discussion:
The Usefulness of Proxima Centauri b
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Quadibloc
2017-02-27 09:09:48 UTC
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Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet, although rocky and thus in that respect Earthlike, to
be a home to alien life.

That, however, does not make it entirely dull, boring, and uninteresting.

The Alpha Centauri - or Rigil Kentaurus (the IAU having made that individual
name for that star official) - system consists of Alpha Centauri A, a G2 star,
orbited by Alpha Centauri B, a K1 star, in an orbit the radius of which varies
from that of Pluto around our Sun to that of Saturn, and Proxima Centauri with a
period of 550,000 years at a distance of 15,000 AU (this being only very
recently established - previously, it was not certain if it really orbited Alpha
Centauri).

There's no direct evidence of an Oort Cloud around Alpha Centauri, but the Oort
Cloud is so far out that the system being a multiple star system shouldn't
mitigate against having one. Alpha Centauri B, though, might well mean there's
no Kuiper Belt in that system, as well as no gas giants, so the system may be
short of volatiles.

The interest of Proxima Centauri b stems from the fact that Proxima Centauri,
being an M6 star, is going to be around for another ten trillion years before it
goes off the Main Sequence. And when it *does* do so, it won't swell up to
become a red giant, it will just fade down into a white dwarf.

At 15,000 AU away from the other two stars in the system, when Alpha Centauri A
and B become red giants, that should be nothing more than an interesting
spectacle from the vantage point of Proxima Centauri b. Particularly as any
people living there would presumably live underground, as terraforming, given
that Proxima Centauri is still active as a flare star, would be wasteful.

So a colony on Proxima Centauri b, say of giant hollow domes within the bedrock,
receiving sunlight concentrated with mirrors sent down through narrow vertical
shafts to them, could be a long-term home for humanity. One that has a
relatively convenient location, given that it orbits the star that is the
closest to us.

Thus, sometime in the next few billion years, it might not be too bold to
imagine that humanity would reach a point where it could send a sublight
generation ship - or something involving uploads, frozen embryos, and artificial
wombs - to that system in order to ensure a more long-term future for humanity.

John Savard
nuny@bid.nes
2017-02-28 23:03:07 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but not notice it orbited a flare star?

We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them doing that.


Mark L. Fergerson
Robert Carnegie
2017-03-01 00:50:18 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but not notice it orbited a flare star?
We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them doing that.
I think David Gerrold's _The Galactic Whirlpool_ -
a Star Trek original novel - mentions a generation
ship's encounter with a possible destination
planetary system with a problem something like
that. I'd have to find it to check, unless
Google Books - nope, I get slices of three
lines at a time. Page 79 may be it, though.

Early Trek episode "This Side of Paradise"
is set on a planet where radiation is lethal
long-term, but I think it's not flaring but
continual at a low level, just enough to make
it a very bad place to have put a colony.
Don Bruder
2017-03-01 05:19:35 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but not
notice it orbited a flare star?
We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them
doing that.
I think David Gerrold's _The Galactic Whirlpool_ -
a Star Trek original novel - mentions a generation
ship's encounter with a possible destination
planetary system with a problem something like
that. I'd have to find it to check, unless
Google Books - nope, I get slices of three
lines at a time. Page 79 may be it, though.
Early Trek episode "This Side of Paradise"
is set on a planet where radiation is lethal
long-term, but I think it's not flaring but
continual at a low level, just enough to make
it a very bad place to have put a colony.
Berthold rays. Lethal, except for a certain flower that grows there,
which, if you get sprayed with its pollen can, among other things, keep
the Berthold radiation from killing you. (One of the other things
includes turning Mr. Spock (temporarily) into a gibbering lovelorn idjit)

Now why can't I get the name of the planet to the front of my mind? Tau
Ceti III, perhaps?
--
If the door is baroque don't be Haydn. Come around Bach and jiggle the Handel.
Quadibloc
2017-03-01 05:32:07 UTC
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Post by Don Bruder
Now why can't I get the name of the planet to the front of my mind? Tau
Ceti III, perhaps?
Actually, Omicron Ceti III. I had to look it up, although when I found it, the
name sounded familiar - I knew Omicron Ceti was mentioned in *some* TOS episode.

The name of the planet didn't feature that prominently in the episode, there's
really no reason why you would be expected to remember it.

John Savard
Don Bruder
2017-03-01 17:20:17 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by Don Bruder
Now why can't I get the name of the planet to the front of my mind? Tau
Ceti III, perhaps?
Actually, Omicron Ceti III. I had to look it up, although when I found it, the
name sounded familiar - I knew Omicron Ceti was mentioned in *some* TOS episode.
The name of the planet didn't feature that prominently in the episode, there's
really no reason why you would be expected to remember it.
John Savard
I mainly remembered it (as much as I did, anyway) from a short in the
first "The New Voyages" volume - The tale was (I think...) "The Mind
Sifter" - and it's sort of a clue to Kirk, who is brain-screwed by the
titular Klingon device, and trying desperately to get it back together
in an early 20th century nuthouse.

Can't remember the exact text, since it's been years, but digested,
<Spoiler-city> <ROT-13>ur zvfgnxrf n (xvaq - juvpu vf rkgerzryl jrveq va
naq bs vgfrys, jvguva gur fgbel) ahefr va gur ahgubhfr sbe gur jbzna
(jubfr anzr V sbetrg) ur unq gb yrg qvr (be jnf vg ZpPbl jub unq gb yrg
ure qvr? Rvgure jnl, gung bar) va Pvgl Ng gur Rqtr bs Sberire, hagvy ur
fgnegf enivat nobhg Bzvpeba Prgv VVV. Fur cvpxf hc ba vg, ur fgnegf
vzcebivat, boyvtngbel Xvex fgnegf ba gur ebnq gb trggvat yhpxl jvgu
phqqyl ahefr frdhrapr sbyybjf. Fur fnlf fbzrguvat nobhg "naq znlor jura
lbh'er orggre, jr pna tb gb guvf Bzvpeba Prgv VVV lbh xrrc zragvbavat.
Vg zhfg unir zrnag FB zhpu gb lbh, fvapr lbh'er nyjnlf zragvbavat vg".
Ur qbhoyr-gnxrf, naq erfcbaqf nybat gur yvarf bs "Ohg jr pna'g - gur
Oregubyq enqvngvba vf sngny" naq guvf gevttref n arne-gbgny zragny oernx
- onpx gb enivat ur tbrf. Gheaf bhg guvf "zvaq-fvsgre" guvat jnf hfrq
cnegvnyyl gb pebff-jver guvatf va uvf oenva gb ohel gur
"jub/jung/jurer/jul/jura/ubj" bs jung unq unccrarq gb uvz, naq ur'q
rfpncrq gur tenfc bs gur xyvatbaf ubyqvat uvz ba gur fhesnpr bs gur
cynarg gur tngrjnl gb gur cnfg jnf ba, naq znqr n gel sbe gur gvzr ur'q
tbar onpx gb orsber. Ur tbg SNVEYL pybfr, naq gur Xyvatbaf qrpvqrq "ur'f
ybfg va gvzr, naq ur'f oenva-sevrq, fb ab ovt qrny", naq gbbx bss.
Zrnajuvyr, Fcbpx vf cebzbgrq (bire uvf bowrpgvbaf) gb pncgnvavat gur
Ragrecevfr, naq nygubhtu Obarf qbrfa'g guvax fb, ur'f hfvat gur fuvc gb
frnepu sbe gur zvffvat Xvex. Fcbpx/ZpPbl "Lbh vafhssrenoyr Ihypna"/"Lbh
vyybtvpny uhzna" tvir-naq-gnxr rafhrf, naq gurl svanyyl erfphr Xvex, naq
nonaqba gur xvaq ahefr gb jungrire sngr fur'f frg sbe.<ROT-13>
--
If the door is baroque don't be Haydn. Come around Bach and jiggle the Handel.
David Johnston
2017-03-01 01:11:48 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but not notice it orbited a flare star?
We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them doing that.
Mark L. Fergerson
As I understand it, a "flare star" has solar flares that aren't that
different from the flares of our sun. They're just happening on suns so
much cooler and dimmer that they make a bigger difference.
Cryptoengineer
2017-03-01 03:12:45 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that
it is unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but
not notice it orbited a flare star?
We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them doing that.
Not that I recall, but in one story, he had <rot13>Rnegu</rot13> be one.

pt
Greg Goss
2017-03-01 03:57:24 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Quadibloc
Proxima Centauri b is known to be a flare star, and this means that it is
unlikely for that planet
Did Niven ever have one of his probes report an Earthlike world but not notice it orbited a flare star?
We really need to figure out what makes them flare, and how to stop them doing that.
Niven signed onto "Building Harlequin's Moon" where learning how to
stop it from doing that was one of the key story elements.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
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