Slow and Steady Red
Product: Slow and Steady Red
Family Member: Constellations
Product Code: Star-SnSR
- Shining brightly Proxima Centauri taken by Hubble 28 Oct 2013. Credit: Hubble, EsO, NASA
- Proxima Centauri as seen by 2MASS – Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, Sept 2002. Credit: 2MASS. Public domain.
- Position of Proxima Centauri (look bottom right for white arrow). Credit: ESO, 2003
Proxima Centauri is a special star to us here on earth because it’s the second closest star to us at a distance of 4.2 light years away. It was discovered by the Scottish astronomer, Robert Innes, in 1915 and he named it using the Latin word Proxima, meaning next to or nearest to.
It’s a red dwarf and these types of stars are considered to be relatively cold star (for a star, that is) and as such they do not shine very brightly. Even though it is the closest star to us; it can’t be seen by the naked eye.
It may be small, it mightn’t be bright, but it does have a long and prosperous life ahead of it. Proxima Centauri slowly burns its hydrogen and will be glowing billions of years after our sun has dwindled into a white dwarf. In fact, scientists estimate that Proxima has about another 4 trillion years of life still ahead of it. That’s 300 times the age of our universe (our universe is only 13.8 billion years old).