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Proxima Centauri

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Proxima Centauri

 

Distance to Earth: 4.243 light years
Magnitude: 11.05
Surface temperature: 3,042 K
Luminosity: 0.0017 L☉
Mass: 244.6E27 kg (0.123 Solar mass)
Constellation: Centaurus

As the nearest star from our Solar System, Proxima Centauri is a prime candidate  for future interstellar travel and space colonization missions.In the meantime, scientists are trying to determine whether this star has  super Earths orbiting within its habitable zone. Habitable zones are regions  around a star where planets are believed to receive just the right amount of  heat. For instance, Earth is within the Sun’s habitable zone.So far, searches in the neighborhood of Proxima Centauri have revealed  nothing. Even companion stars or supermassive planets that may be accompanying  the star have not yet been discovered (if they are ever there at all). Although  the search continues, some scientists believe Proxima Centauri’s flares can be a  big obstacle for life even inside the star’s habitable zone.

Proxima Centauri’s flares are believed to be caused by magnetic activity.  When a flare occurs, the brightness of all electromagnetic waves emitted by the  star increases. This includes radio waves as well as harmful X-rays. The most  common flare stars are red dwarfs, just like Proxima Centauri.

Now, even if Proxima Centauri is the nearest star, it is still 4.2 light  years away. That’s about 4 x 10 13 km. The spacecraft that would take  the first explorers to that system would have to rely on a virtually unlimited  supply of energy. Furthermore, sufficient shielding against cosmic radiation  should be in place.

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Proxima Centauri is smaller than our Sun with a mass of approximately 0.123  solar masses and a radius of only about 0.145 solar radii. Its interior is  believed to be totally dependent on convection when it comes to transferring  heat from the core to the exterior.

Discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes, the Director of the Union Observatory in  Johannesburg, South Africa, the star was observed to have the same proper motion  as Alpha Centauri. Further studies confirmed that it was in fact very close to  Alpha Centauri. The current distance between the two is estimated to be about  only 0.21 light years.

 

 

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