What is Proxima Centauri and how far is it from Earth – RB

What is Proxima Centauri and how far it is from the Earth – RB

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What is Proxima Centauri and how much far from the Earth – RB

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What is Proxima Centauri and how far it is from the Earth – RB


Among the various celestial bodies discovered one of the most interesting is Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Earth: what is its distance from the Earth.

Discovered in 1915 and embedded in the Alpha Centauri system, Proxima Centauri is known to be the closest star to Earth , of course with the exception of our Sun. It is no coincidence that its name derives from the Latin Proxima , with the meaning of “next”, “closest”, and technically belongs to the category of red dwarfs , probably the most widespread stellar type in the Milky Way.

This indicates that it is a rather small cold star, but which boasts characteristics that for centuries have brought it to the attention of the scientific community. Even today it is one of the most studied celestial bodies, as well as a possible destination for a future interstellar journey .

Proxima Centauri: the closest star to us

For experts in the sector and simple enthusiasts, the Proxima Centauri Star System remains one of the most interesting to keep under observation and, as already mentioned, one of the most coveted with a view to a possible extrasolar exploration. This M5 Ve spectral class red dwarf star was discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes , director of the Union Observatory, South Africa, who spotted it in the direction of the Centaurus constellation as the closest star to Earth, obviously if we don’t take the Sun into consideration.

It has about 4.8 billion years and, thanks to its proximity, its angular diameter can be measured directly: according to the measurements, its radius is equivalent to about one seventh of that of the sun, while the mass and density are respectively about one eighth of that of the sun and forty times greater than that of our sun. particularly low, Proxima is subject to sudden flares completely random, even very powerful. These are violent eruptions of matter that explode from the star’s photosphere, which in turn has a surface temperature of “suns” 2725 degrees Celsius.

Proxima Centauri: distance from Earth

Proxima Centauri’s distance from Earth is fixed at 4.2 light years , looking towards the Alpha system Centaurs, and more precisely in the direction of the Centaurus constellation. For an imaginary journey that corresponds to 270. 000 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Given its proximity, on the other hand it is the closest star to our planet, the fascinating red dwarf is also observable from Earth , but we will hardly be able to see it with the naked eye, due to the too weak brightness and excessively small size.

In any case, it is absolutely not visible from the northern hemisphere, except for the areas of Egypt , of Northern India and of Florida. Moving instead to the southern hemisphere , the star can be observed from any point and throughout the year .

Proxima Centauri: the planets Proxima b and Proxima c

In 2016, the La Silla Observatory in Chile officially announced the discovery of a planet that orbits around Proxima Centauri, within what in astronomy is defined habitable zone , or the region around a star where it is theoretically possible for a planet to keep liquid water on its surface. It is called Proxima b , and in fact it is the closest exoplanet to us known to date. It is a planet with potentially interesting habitability conditions for future extrasolar exploration, widely contemplated in the current plans of NASA and of the various companies dedicated to cosmic travel.

Theoretically, Proxima b could therefore be habitable , with its discovery having physiologically generated a great stir among the scientific community. However, it must be said that we still know too little about this planet to be able to unbalance ourselves: its orbital inclination, together with its exact radius, remains unknown. The consequent variations in mass indicate, in practice, that it could be as rocky as the Earth , or frozen and with a very thick atmosphere composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.

In 2019 a group led by Mario Damasso of INAF also announced the probable presence of another planet in orbit at Proxima Centauri. Planet which was then studied in 2020 and in 2021 for the final confirmation with the HARPS spectrograph, directly from Earth, and with the Gaia satellite from space. Even in the case of Proxima c , this is the name, the information in our possession is too small to be able to to affirm that life is possible, but the discovery of a second planet suggests the existence of a entire planetary system in the orbit of the dwarf star.