Proxima Centauri, Our Nearest Star

February 28, 2017

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Photographer: Alessandro Cipolat Bares
Summary Authors: Alessandro Cipolat Bares; Jim Foster

The star outlined in the box shows Proxima Centauri, in the constellation of Centaurus, as observed from Tivoli Farm, Namibia. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to Earth. Even though it's very close in relative terms, this red dwarf's faint light still takes over 4 years to reach us (4.22 light years away). It's far too dim to be seen with the unaided eye or even a small telescope. Proxima Centauri is thought to be part of the Alpha Centauri star system, though it's unclear whether or not these stars are gravitationally bound to each other. Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigil Kentaurus), lies 4.37 light-years from the Sun and is the third brightest star in the night sky -- seen at top. The bluish star at bottom right is Hadar Centauri. Photo taken on July 29, 2011.