Proxima Centauri

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Proxima Centauri
Position from Proxima Centauri.png
Observational Data
Astronomical designation Proxima Centauri
Right ascension 14h 29m 42.9487s
Declination −62o 40′ 46.141″
Constellation Centaurus
Type of object Star
Dimensions
Magnitude Apparent: 11.05
Absolute: 15.49
Redshift
Astrometry
Distance from Earth 4.22 ly
Radial Velocity −21.7 ± 1.8 km/s
Proper Motion RA: −3775.40[1] mas/yr
Dec.: 769.33[1] mas/yr
Parallax 768.7 ± 0.3 mas


Proxima Centauri is a spectral class M5.5 Red Dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus. At just over 4.22 Light years away Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to the Solar System. It was first discovered in 1915 by the astronomer Robert Innes and is not visible by the naked eye. It is often considered the third star in the Alpha Centauri system due to having the same proper motion as Alpha Centauri A & B. Due to the star's great distance of around 15,000AUs (roughly one-fifth of a light year) from Alpha Centauri A & B, astronomers debate if Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to the other two stars.

Due to the close proximity of the star, its angular diameter can be measured directly, revealing a diameter 14.5% the size of our Sun. Proxima Centauri appears to have only 10.7% of the sun's mass, and a visual luminosity so low, it would be 19,000 times less luminous then our Sun is if it were at the same distance[1].

Proxima Centauri, like many M class red dwarfs, is a flare star that may brighten suddenly to many times its normal luminosity. Visual evidence of such flare activity occurred from May to August 1995 when several fares were recorded[2][3].

At present, Proxima Centauri is moving towards us at a rate of 21.7 km/s. The star will reach its closest approach to our Solar System in some 26,700 years and will be only 3.11 light years away at this point, afterward the star will slowly move way.[4]

Thus far, the search for substellar companions orbiting Proxima Centauri have yielded no results, more precise instruments would be required to find an Earth sized world. Due to the star's extremely small habitable zone and the sudden increase in electromagnetic radiation from occasional flares, scientists debate if a life-bearing planet could exist there at all[5].

References

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