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This object was discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes and is the nearest-known star to the Sun. The star has a mass of about 0.123 solar masses. Once Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel released his findings for the star 61 Cygni, also using the parallax method, in 1838, Henderson decided to publish his own. By the year 29,700, Alpha Centauri will be at a distance of 3.26 light years and reach a maximum visual magnitude of -0.86, close to the current magnitude of Canopus.
[nb 5], A 1998 study of photometric variations indicates that Proxima Centauri rotates once every 83.5 days. Proxima Centauri b was announced in early 2016, and orbits the star at a distance of roughly 0.05 AU (7.5 million km) with an orbital period of approximately 11.2 Earth days.
Comparative sizes of (from left to right) the Sun. Although it looks bright through the eye of Hubble, as you might expect from the nearest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri is not visible to the naked eye.
It is estimated that similar flares occur around five times every year but are of such short duration, just a few minutes, that they have never been observed before.  Proxima also has a relatively large proper motion—moving 3.85 arcseconds per year across the sky. Alpha Centauri B: Alpha-2 Centauri, GJ 559 B, HR 5460, HD 128621,LHS 51, HIP 71681, Alpha Centauri A , Nuclear pulse propulsion might enable such interstellar travel with a trip timescale of a century, inspiring several studies such as Project Orion, Project Daedalus, and Project Longshot. Based on the system’s proper motions and radial velocities, it will keep becoming brighter and pass to the north of Crux constellation before moving to the northwest. Designated Alpha Centauri Bb, the planet has a mass at least 13 percent more than Earth’s and a surface temperature of 1,500 K (1,200°C), which makes it too hot to support life. Image: John Colosimo/ESO.
They used the radial velocity technique. The nearest known star system to Alpha Centauri is Luhman 16 in Vela constellation, lying at a distance of 3.6 light years.
The Scottish astronomer Thomas James Henderson was the first to calculate the distance to Alpha Centauri using the parallax method between April 1832 and May 1833 from the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope. The system is also referenced in a number of games like Civilization, Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters, Alien Legacy, Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, Colony Wars, Earth & Beyond, Kill Zone, Mass Effect 2, and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. This object was discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes and is the nearest-known star to the Sun. Alpha Centauri A has 110 percent of the Sun’s mass and 151.9 percent of its luminosity. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.
Sirius would be much closer to Betelgeuse in Orion constellation, appearing less than a degree away, but it would be the brightest star in the sky when observed from Alpha Centauri, too. Coordinates: 14h 39m 36.4951s (right ascension), -60°50’02.308” (declination) Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B orbit a common centre every 79.91 years. It is a main sequence star with the stellar classification K1 V, which makes it more orange in colour than Alpha Centauri A, which is yellowish. Because of Proxima Centauri's proximity to Earth, its angular diameter can be measured directly. The magnetic energy from this field is released at the surface through stellar flares that briefly increase the overall luminosity of the star.
Proxima Centauri is a member of the Alpha Centauri system, being identified as component Alpha Centauri C, and is 2.18° to the southwest of the Alpha Centauri AB pair. Mass: 0.907 solar masses The star's magnetic field is created by convection throughout the stellar body, and the resulting flare activity generates a total X-ray emission similar to that produced by the Sun. The first astronomer to recognize Alpha Centauri as a binary star system was the Jesuit priest Jean Richaud in Puducherry in India.
Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Its estimated mass is at least 1.17 times that of Earth.
The Alpha Centauri system may contain at least one planet, discovered in the orbit of Alpha Centauri B. , In 1951, American astronomer Harlow Shapley announced that Proxima Centauri is a flare star. It is likely gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri AB and lies at a distance of 0.24 light years, or 0.06 parsecs (13,000 astronomical units), or 2.2 trillion kilometres from the main pair. This would have increased the delivery of volatiles such as water to the dry inner regions, so possibly enriching any terrestrial planets in the system with this material. , Lower mass main-sequence stars have higher mean density than higher mass ones, and Proxima Centauri is no exception: it has a mean density of 47.1×103 kg/m3 (47.1 g/cm3), compared with the Sun's mean density of 1.411×103 kg/m3 (1.411 g/cm3). These cookies do not store any personal information. The two brighter components, called A and B, about 0.2 light-year farther from the Sun, revolve around each other with a period of about 80 years, while Proxima circles them with a period of 550,000 years.  However, more accurate measurements of the radial velocity are needed to confirm this hypothesis. In 1980, the Einstein Observatory produced a detailed X-ray energy curve of a stellar flare on Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri belongs to the stellar class M5 Ve or VIe, which means that it is red in colour and either a small main sequence star (V) or a subdwarf (VI) with emission lines. Where there is liquid water, there may be the conditions to support life. Alpha Centauri B has 90 percent of the Sun’s mass and 44.5 percent of its luminosity. It is a red dwarf of the spectral type M5.5Ve. , In 2017, a team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array reported detecting a belt of cold dust orbiting Proxima Centauri at a range of 1−4 AU from the star.
The line from Alpha to Beta Centauri, also known as Hadar or Agena, points directly to Crux constellation.
Alpha Centauri A is the fourth individual brightest star in the night sky, with an apparent magnitude of -0.01, only slightly fainter than Arcturus (-0.04), the brightest star in Boötes constellation. Coordinates: 14h 29m 42.9487s, −62° 40′ 46.141″. The third component, Proxima, of 11th magnitude, is a red dwarf star. Designations: Alpha Centauri, Rigil Kentaurus, Rigil Kent, Toliman, Bungula, FK5 538, CP(D)−60°5483, GC 19728, CCDM J14396-6050 Its average luminosity is very low, and it is quite small compared to other stars, at only about an eighth of the mass of the Sun. , Convection is associated with the generation and persistence of a magnetic field. A faint additional signal was detected in 2019 using radial velocity data with a period of 5.15 days.  In 1917, at the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, the Dutch astronomer Joan Voûte measured the star's trigonometric parallax at 0.755″±0.028″ and determined that Proxima Centauri was approximately the same distance from the Sun as Alpha Centauri. Artist's impression of the surface of Proxima Centauri b, the closest extrasolar planet to the Sun. The space velocities of these stars are all within 10 km/s of Alpha Centauri's peculiar motion. Temperature: 5,260 K. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Constellation: Centaurus Alpha Centauri C Proxima Centauri is the smallest of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri system.  Proxima Centauri has since been the subject of study by most X-ray observatories, including XMM-Newton and Chandra. Such a planet would lie within the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, about 0.023–0.054 AU (3.4–8.1 million km) from the star, and would have an orbital period of 3.6–14 days. Henderson also realized that the components of the Alpha Centauri system displayed a significantly high proper motion.
, Based on a parallax of 768.5004±0.2030 mas, published in 2018 in Gaia Data Release 2, Proxima Centauri is about 4.244 light-years (1.301 pc; 268,400 AU) from the Sun. , Because of the star's proximity to Earth, Proxima Centauri has been proposed as a flyby destination for interstellar travel. There are 32 known stars in this region, including Sol. This convection means that the helium ash left over from the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen does not accumulate at the core, but is instead circulated throughout the star. The planet, if confirmed, will be the closest known exoplanet to Earth. Image: ESO, Claus Madsen. The angular separation between Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B varies from 2 to 22 arcseconds. The presence of an atmosphere could serve to redistribute the energy from the star-lit side to the far side of the planet.  The activity level also appears to vary with a period of roughly 442 days, which is shorter than the solar cycle of 11 years.
It has a mass of only 0.1221 solar masses and a radius of 0.1542 solar radii.  A second signal in the range of 60 to 500 days was also detected, but its nature is still unclear due to stellar activity. The estimated age of the Alpha Centauri system is between 4.5 and 7 billion years, which makes the stars slightly older than the Sun.
Absolute magnitude: 4.38
Hues wrote, “Now, therefore, there are but three Stars of the first magnitude that I could perceive in all those parts which are never seene here in England. The proximity of the star allows for detailed observation of its flare activity. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Solar System. Image: ESO/DSS 2. Six single stars, two binary star systems, and a triple star share a common motion through space with Proxima Centauri and the Alpha Centauri system.  A subsequent time series analysis of chromospheric indicators in 2002 suggests a longer rotation period of 116.6±0.7 days.
Sirius will also brighten over the next 60,000 years and continue to be the brightest star for about 210,000 years.  Proxima Centauri's quiescent X-ray luminosity, approximately (4–16) × 1026 erg/s ((4–16) × 1019 W), is roughly equal to that of the much larger Sun. With a quiescent apparent magnitude of 11.13, it is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. If the planet had a strong magnetic field, the field would deflect the particles from the atmosphere; even the slow rotation of a tidally locked planet that spins once for every time it orbits its star would be enough to generate a magnetic field, as long as part of the planet's interior remained molten. Alpha Centauri is only slightly brighter than Arcturus in Boötes constellation and Vega in Lyra. The peak X-ray luminosity of the largest flares can reach 1028 erg/s (1021 W).
 The discovery was released in 2020.
The star has an absolute magnitude of 4.38. Unlike Alpha Centauri AB, Proxima Centauri is too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
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