Exoplanets & Exomoons

Possible Internal Structures and Compositions of Proxima Centauri b

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 3, 2016
Filed under ,
Possible Internal Structures and Compositions of Proxima Centauri b

We explore the possible Proxima Centauri b’s interiors assuming the planet belongs to the class of dense solid planets (rocky with possible addition of water) and derive the corresponding radii.

To do so, we use an internal structure model that computes the radius of the planet along with the locations of the different layers of materials, assuming that its mass and bulk composition are known. Lacking detailed elementary abundances of the host star to constrain the planet’s composition, we base our model on solar system values. We restrained the simulations to the case of solid planets without massive atmospheres. With these assumptions, the possible radius of Proxima Centauri b spans the 0.94–1.40 R⊕ range.

The minimum value is obtained considering a 1.10 M⊕ Mercury-like planet with a 65% core mass fraction, whereas the highest radius is reached for 1.46 M⊕ with 50% water in mass, constituting an ocean planet. Although this range of radii still allows very different planet compositions, it helps characterizing many aspects of Proxima Centauri b, such as the formation conditions of the system or the current amount of water on the planet. This work can also help ruling out future measurements of the planet’s radius that would be physically incompatible with a solid planetary body.

B. Brugger, O. Mousis, M. Deleuil, J.I. Lunine
(Submitted on 30 Sep 2016)

Comments: 5 pages, 3 figures – Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1609.09757 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1609.09757v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Bastien Brugger [view email]
[v1] Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:43:28 GMT (175kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻