Here’s What We Know About Alpha Centauri

Here's What We Know About Alpha Centauri

Here’s What We Know About Alpha Centauri


When you look up at the sky at night, you can see the presence of trillions of stars. Some are brighter than others and there are also star systems that work to light up the night. The star system located closest to the sun is known as Alpha Centauri.

What is Alpha Centauri?

This is a two-star system is approximately 23 percent bigger than the sun. The two primary stars include Alpha Centauri A and B. However, there is also a dwarf star that is part of this system called Proxima Centauri. Compared to the sun, it is also 151.9 times brighter. It is part of the Centaurus constellation. About every 22 days, this system completes an orbit, making it a little faster than the sun too.

Alpha Centauri Distance From Earth

To get to the Alpha Centauri system from Earth, you would have to travel 4.367 light years. For a space shuttle to travel one light year would take approximately 37,200 years.


Alpha Centauri visible in the night sky on January 6th, 2016, at Villarica Volcano, Chilean Patagonia

There is a Planet Associated With Alpha Centauri

In 2012, researchers told the world about a planet that they found to be orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It appears to be relatively rocky and scored, and about the size of Earth. Scientists theorize that the presence of this planet means that others could exist in the start system.

The Age and Appearance of the Alpha Centauri Stars

Like the sun, Alpha Centauri A has a yellow hue, where B has more of an orange hue. The dwarf star Proxima Centauri is red in color. All of the stars are estimated to be about 4.85 billion years old.

You can see that Alpha Centauri is an interesting star system and one that certainly warrants more investigation. As technology improves, space scientists have plans to further explore this star system.

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Lauren Webber
Lauren Webber
Lauren studies astronomy and physics at NYU.
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