Tag Archives: stars

A Is for Alpha Centauri

Here it is! It’s the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge! Two years ago, I participated in it, and now I’m doing it again. This time, I have a science theme, and I am featuring videos.

For the first topic, we have Alpha Centauri. Check out the video below. After the video, the facts are available for you to read.

  1. It’s a triple star system 4.37 ly from the sun.
  2. Alpha Centauri A is also known as Rigil Kentaurus, while Alpha Centauri C is known as Proxima Centauri. B has no other name.
  3. Alpha Centauri A is a G2 yellow dwarf star similar to the sun, although 10% brighter and 23% larger.
  4. Alpha Centauri B is a K1 orange dwarf star 90% the mass and 14% smaller radius than the sun.
  5. Proxima Centauri is an M6 class red dwarf star with 0.123 solar masses.
  6. Proxima Centauri orbits the AB pair at a massive distance of 15,000 AU or 0.24 light years, though it’s not completely certain it is a member of the system.
  7. Discovered in 2012, Alpha Centauri Bb was an extrasolar planet that was found in 2015 to be an artefact of data analysis. It doesn’t exist.
  8. In 2016, Proxima Centauri b was announced. It’s an extrasolar planet a bit larger than the earth, but is in the star’s habitable zone. It’s likely to be tidally locked, making life difficult to take hold. It’s also likely to be one of the easiest extrasolar planets to study in the near future because of it’s proximity.
  9. The Alpha Centauri system is estimated to be between 4.5 and 7 billion years old, around the same age of our sun or older.
  10. Due to Proxima Centauri being a flare star, life may never have a chance to become established on b because the flares may strip the planet of its atmosphere.

Coming on Monday is the letter B, which will have a more biological topic. Comments are always welcome!


Helping Name Exoplanets

Did you know that you can help to name some extrasolar planets? No? Well, you can.

The IAU (International Astronomical Union) is asking for the public’s help in naming the planets that orbit twenty different stars. And just who is the IAU? Well, it’s the organisation that’s responsible for the naming of planets, stars, asteroids, moons, and so on. That means that these names that you can vote on may become completely official.

So, how can you vote? Well, just go here, and vote on your favourite names. Many of these planets are very well-known by astronomers now, and are quite significant, as some of them were firsts.

One of the best-known stars in this list, Fomalhaut is also relatively nearby at only 25 light years. One of the planets you can help name is Fomalhaut b.
One of the best-known stars in this list, Fomalhaut is also relatively nearby at only 25 light years. One of the planets you can help name is Fomalhaut b.

It’s quite exciting that we’re now getting into the naming of exoplanets. There are nearly 2,000 confirmed planets with nearly 5,000 unconfirmed. That’s a lot of names to give.

I’m definitely taking my time to vote on my favourite names. Some of them I don’t think are appropriate or even related to the star or constellation. Some shouldn’t even be planet names, I think. But there are a handful that people put a lot of thought into and even linked it to mythology, which is the standard for naming a body in the solar system. I was surprised to see so many Japanese names available to vote on. Must have been many Japanese people interested in this.

Are you going to vote?

Honestly, Earth is Tiny

Ever wonder how Earth compares in size with Jupiter?  How about the Sun?  I found this article with some pretty good pictures showing just how big the Earth is.

Not impressive enough?  Well, how does it compare with stars?  You know, the Sun isn’t that big when compared to the biggest stars in the galaxy.  This video illustrates that perfectly.

Impressed?  Discuss below.