Proxima Centauri.

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Proxima Centauri - a star that is closest to the Earth.The name she received from the Latin word proxima, which means "immediate."Its distance to the Sun is equal to 4.22 light-years.However, despite the fact that the star closer to us than the sun, it can be seen only through the telescope.It is so small that its existence did not know anything before 1915.Pathfinder star was Robert Innes, an astronomer from Scotland.

star system Alpha Centauri

Proxima is part of the Alpha Centauri system.In addition to it, it also includes two stars: Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. They are much brighter and more noticeable Proxima.Thus, the star of A, the brightest in the constellation, is at a distance of 4.33 light years from the sun.It is called Rigel Centaurus, which means "foot of the Centaur."This star is somewhat similar to our sun.Perhaps because of its brightness.In contrast, Proxima Centauri, it has been known since ancient times as a very visible in the night sky.

Alpha Centauri B is also not inferior to "sister" in brightness.Together they - close binary system.Proxima Centauri is far enough away from them.Between stars - a distance of thirteen thousand astronomical units (this is farther than from the Sun to the planet Neptune in as many as four times!).

All Centauri star system orbiting around their common center of mass.Proxima is moving only very slowly during her treatment it takes millions of years.Therefore, the star for a long time will remain very close to the ground.

quite small

star Proxima Centauri is not only the closest of the constellation to us, but it is also the smallest.Its weight of such tiny that it barely enough to support the processes of formation of helium from hydrogen necessary for existence.Star very dim light.Proxima much easier Sun, somewhere seven times.And the temperature on the surface is much lower, "only" three thousand degrees.Proxima brightness gives Sun a hundred and fifty times.

Red dwarfs are small stars

Proxima refers to the spectral class M with a very low luminosity.Another name is widely known celestial bodies in this class - red dwarfs.Stars with such a small mass - the most interesting objects.Their internal structure is somewhat similar to the structure of giant planets such as Jupiter.The substance of red dwarfs is in the exotic state.In addition, there are suggestions that the planets that are near such stars may be suitable for life.

Red dwarfs live very long, much longer than any other star.They are very slow to evolve.Any nuclear reactions inside them start to flow only in a few billion years after the birth of.The lifetime of a red dwarf more than the existence of the entire universe!So, in the far-distant future, when no one goes out of the sun-like star, the red dwarf Proxima Centauri would be all too dim light in the darkness of space.

Generally, red dwarfs - are the most common stars in our galaxy.More than 80% of the star bodies of the Milky Way they make.And here's the paradox: they are completely invisible!The naked eye will not notice any of them.


still possible to accurately measure the size of these small stars like red dwarfs, because of their low luminosity is just not possible.But today this problem is solved by using a special VLT-interferometer (VLT - abbreviation for Very Large Telescope).This unit, working on the basis of two large, 8.2-meter VLT-telescopes located at the Paranal Astronomical Observatory (ESO).These two huge telescope, distant from each other at 102.4 meters, measure the celestial bodies with such precision what simply can not afford other devices.So the Geneva Observatory, astronomers for the first time got the exact dimensions of a small star.

Changeable Centauri

The size Proxima Centauri borders between the real stars, planets and a brown dwarf.Still, it is a star.The mass and diameter up one-seventh of its mass and diameter of the sun, respectively.Star more massive than the planet Jupiter, a hundred and fifty times, but weighs one and a half times less.If Proxima Centauri weighed even less, it would simply could not be a star: not enough hydrogen in its interior, to emit light.In this case, it would be an ordinary brown dwarf (t. E. The dead), and not a real star.

itself Proxima - very dim celestial body.Normally its luminosity reaches no more than 11m.Bright ironed it only in photographs taken huge telescopes, such as, for example, "Hubble".However, sometimes the stars shine dramatically and significantly enhanced.Scientists explain this by the fact that Proxima Centauri is a class of so-called volatile, or flare, stars.This is caused by violent outbursts on the surface, which are a result of rapid convection processes.They are somewhat similar to those that occur on the surface of the sun, only much stronger, which leads to even change the brightness of the star.

Quite child

These violent processes and flares suggest that nuclear reactions taking place in the depths of Proxima Centauri, has not yet stabilized.The findings of scientists: it is still quite young star by the standards of space.Although her age is comparable to the age of our sun.But Proxima - a red dwarf, so they can not even be compared.After all, like other "red brothers", it will be very slow and economical to burn their nuclear fuel, and therefore shine a very long time - about three hundred times longer than the entire universe!What is there to speak of the sun ...

Many science fiction writers believe that Proxima Centauri - the most suitable for space exploration and adventure star.Some believe that it hides the universe of the planet, where you can meet other civilizations.Maybe it is so, but that's just the distance from Earth to Proxima Centauri - more than four light-years away.So, although it near, but still is far away.