Visiting Our Closest Neighbors
Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our solar system, only 4.4 light years away. Its three stars are Alpha Centauri A on left, B on right and Proxima Centauri in the red circle. If we were to go visit a star beyond our Sun, it would probably be Alpha Centauri.
Why It Matters
- Alpha Centauri is a triple star system. All three are main sequence stars.
- Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B orbit each other has a binary star.
- They are orbited from a great distance by Proxima Centauri.
- Alpha Centauri A is a G-class star, the same as our Sun. Alpha Centauri B is a bright K-class star. Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star.
- Alpha Centauri B may be orbited by an exoplanet, Alpha Centauri Bb. The planet orbits at one-tenth the distance between Mercury and the Sun.
With the links below, learn more about visiting Alpha Centauri. Then answer the following questions.
- SciShow, Can We Get to Alpha Centauri (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzoJ5a5T0ms
- Why is Alpha Centauri so bright in the Southern Hemisphere sky?
- What is the biggest problem with sending a space probe to Alpha Centauri?
- Is Alpha Centauri Bb a place we might look for extrasolar life?
- What technological developments do we need to wait for before it is practical to travel to Alpha Centauri? What is the problem with this?