10 Closest Stars to the Solar System
If anyone were to ask “which is the closest star to the Earth?” then the answer is simple, common knowledge – the Sun itself is our closest star. In fact, it is so close that when it is above the horizon it creates enough light to drown out every other star in the universe – otherwise known as daytime. But how about beyond our Solar system? Which stars are the closest? And how long would it take us to get there?
1: Proxima Centauri
A brilliant red dwarf star lying some 4.22 light years away, Proxima Centauri was discovered by South African astronomers in 1915. It is uninhabitable, but only burns with about a seventh of the Sun’s heat, meaning habitable planets may be nearby.
2/3: Alpha Centauri B & C
These two sister stars alternate the title of ‘second and third closest stars to Earth, as they spin around each other in a lazy orbit. The two are so close that they appear as a single star in the night sky, and are only discernible as separate entities with a powerful telescope. It is believed that between the two stars there may be a planet suitable for supporting human life.
4: Barnard’s Star
Located 6 light years away from Earth, Barnard’s Star is a low-mass red dwarf located in the constellation of Ophiuchus. In 1916 the American astronomer E.E Barnard discovered and mapped the star’s travel and speed. Despite its proximity, it is invisible to the naked eye.
5: Wolf 359
Located in the constellation Leo, Wolf 359 is a red dwarf star far too dim to be seen with the naked eye. It is located 7.7 light years away, and regularly emits solar flares that cause it to burn very brightly.
6: Lalande 21185
Lalande 21185, often simply referred to as LAL 21185, is a red dwarf star located 8 light years away in the constellation of Ursa Major, or the Great Bear.
7/8: Sirius A & B
Located 8.6 light years away, the brightest star in the night sky is in fact two separate stars – a white main sequence star known as Sirius A, and a white dwarf known as Sirius B. Together they are known as Canis Majora – the Dog Star. It is a vital star for navigation, and the subject of more folklore than any other star except the sun.
9/10: Luyten 726 A & B
Luyten 726 is a binary star system in the constellation of Cetus, 8.62 light years away from Earth. Ceti, or Luyten 726 B, is one of the most famous stars in astronomy as it is the best example of a flare star visible from Earth.
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