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CfA Press Release
 


Figure Caption for Harvard-Smithsonian Press Release No. 99-03Figure Caption for Harvard-Smithsonian Press Release No. 99-03

This figure shows a two-dimensional map of three-dimensional nearbyThis figure shows a two-dimensional map of three-dimensional nearbyspace. The nearest 25 star systems are shown at their relativespace. The nearest 25 star systems are shown at their relativedistances from the Sun, to a horizon of 13.1 light years. In total,distances from the Sun, to a horizon of 13.1 light years. In total,there are 36 stars in this sample, including 16 single stars, 7 binarythere are 36 stars in this sample, including 16 single stars, 7 binarystar systems, and 2 triple star systems. The systems are plotted sostar systems, and 2 triple star systems. The systems are plotted sothat right ascension zero hours (RA = 0, toward the constellationthat right ascension zero hours (RA = 0, toward the constellationAries) is to the right, and the RA increases counterclockwise (RA = 6Aries) is to the right, and the RA increases counterclockwise (RA = 6at the top, RA = 12 to the left, RA = 18 to the bottom).at the top, RA = 12 to the left, RA = 18 to the bottom).

Different colors and sizes represent different types of stars, fromDifferent colors and sizes represent different types of stars, fromsmall red dwarfs like Barnard's Star to larger stars like the yellowsmall red dwarfs like Barnard's Star to larger stars like the yellowSun, and blue-white Sirius. Tiny white dwarf companions to Sirius andSun, and blue-white Sirius. Tiny white dwarf companions to Sirius andProcyon are the remnant cores of more massive stars that have alreadyProcyon are the remnant cores of more massive stars that have alreadyevolved through the red giant phase and shed their outer layers. Theevolved through the red giant phase and shed their outer layers. Thenearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf 4.3 lightnearest star to the Sun is Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf 4.3 lightyears away. It is the smallest component in the alpha Centauri systemyears away. It is the smallest component in the alpha Centauri systemwhich is, in fact, a triple star system. In 1997, the RECONS teamwhich is, in fact, a triple star system. In 1997, the RECONS teamdiscovered the 20th nearest star, GJ 1061, in the southerndiscovered the 20th nearest star, GJ 1061, in the southernconstellation Horologium, the Pendulum Clock.constellation Horologium, the Pendulum Clock.

NOTE: For clarity, the points representing the stars have beenNOTE: For clarity, the points representing the stars have beenenlarged relative to the distances between them. In fact, at the sizeenlarged relative to the distances between them. In fact, at the sizeof the Sun shown (radius 1/16 of an inch), Proxima Centauri would beof the Sun shown (radius 1/16 of an inch), Proxima Centauri would be57 miles away. 57 miles away.

(Credit: Todd Henry, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dana Backman, Franklin & Marshall College.)(Credit: Todd Henry, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dana Backman, Franklin & Marshall College.)

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