Saturday, March 15, 2008

Xedon River and list #15: Ten closest stars

Xedon River, originally uploaded by c_p_lew.

Very hot today. I tried to ride my bicycle in the late morning - only got as far as the river, took this picture and returned home, where the temperature was 35 degree C. I returned to the office, where it's a little bit cooler and quiet.

So our sun is a star, and even though we are 93 million light years away, a distance that takes any photo 8 minutes to travel from there to here, we still feel such heat. Sometimes it really staggers my imagination. Another thing that makes my head explode is the distance between the stars. Even to reach the closest star, Proxima Centuri, would take a thousand years using current day technology. No wonder we prefer the space travel of Star Trek!

Here are the Ten Closest Stars:

1. Proxima Centauri
At 4.2 light years, it is the closest star to our our own solar system. Proxima Centauri is the third star in the Alpha Centauri star system. There has been some recent speculation that it has rocky planets (forget the link).

2. Rigil Kentaurus
The second closest star is a tie between the sister stars of Proxima Centauri. Alpha Centauri A and B make up the other two stars of the triple star system Alpha Centauri. Distance: 4.3 LY

3. Barnard's Star
A faint red dwarf star, discovered in 1916 by E. E. Barnard. Distance: 5.9 LY

4. Wolf 359
Known to many as thelocation of a famous battle on Star Trek the Next generation, Wolf 359 is a red dwarf. It is so small that if it were to replace our sun, an observer on Earth would need a telescope to see it clearly. Distance: 7.7 LY

5. Lalande 21185
While it is the fifth closest star to our own sun, Lalande 21185 is about three times too faint to be seen with the naked eye. Distance: 8.26 LY

6. Luyten 726-8A and B
Discovered by Willem Jacob Luyten (1899-1994), both Luyten 726-8A 726-8B are red dwarfs and too faint to be seen with the naked eye. Distance: 8.73 LY

7. Sirius A and B
Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. Sirius B, the companion, has received considerable attention itself, since it is the first white dwarf with a spectrum to show a gravitational red shift as predicted by the general theory of relativity. Distance: 8.6 LY

8. Ross 154
Ross 154 appears to be a flare star, which means that it can increase its brightness by a factor of 10 or more before reverting to its normal state, a process which takes only a few minutes. Distance: 9.693 LY

9. Ross 248
While it is now the ninth closest star to our solar system, around the year 38000AD, the red dwarf Ross 248 will take the place of Proxima Centauri as the closest star to us. Distance: 10.32 LY

10. Epsilon Eridani
Eridani (tenth closest star to Earth) is the closest star known to have a planet, Epsilon Eridani b. It is the third closest star that is viewable without a telescope. Distance: 10.5 LY This is also the star that Babylon 5 is parked at. It also plays a staring role in other works of fiction and film.

Another star that fires the imagination and is relatively close is Tau Ceti. Its is very similar to the sun, but its spectrum shows that it's poor in metals so it's not likely to have rocky planets - if any - around it.

There's another list of nearest stars on Wikipedia. And another database - Atlas of the Universe

Interestingly enough, the BBC reported a new contender for closest star #5, known as SO025300.5+165258, it was discovered about 5 years ago. A red dwarf, it's not visible to the naked eye but was picked up by its swift motion on star image databases.


Marie Walden said...

You're so smart. Me lovey smart people.

FRIGGA said...

Ooo I like your picture!!!

Today I posted the "stories" from last weeks Mad Libs style TT - come by and vote for your favorite if you have time! :-)