Humanity has been admiring, studying, following, and musing about stars since the dawn our of existence. When you wish upon a star, it may be bewildering to imagine just how far away that star truly is. We know that the closest star to our planet is the Sun, but what about beyond that? The closest star beyond our sun, called Proxima Centauri, is an astonishing 4.3 light-years away! To put that into perspective, it would take 165,000 years with current rocket propulsion technology to reach it. The 25.6 trillion mile distance is 276,000 times the space between Earth and the Sun.
Proxima Centauri is the smallest star in the triple star system Alpha Centauri. In 2016, scientists announced the discovery of a super-Earth exoplanet within the orbit of Proxima Centauri. Called Proxima Centauri b, this planet is now the closest known planet beyond our solar system. It is believed to be a rocky and temperate world with the potential of water existing. The habitability of Proxima Centauri b is a subject of speculation. Massive but infrequent solar flares may make it incompatible with life, but scientists have proposed the fascinating possibility that UV-resistant organisms could have evolved to survive the environment.
This infographic explores the 44 closest stars beyond our Sun, examining the size, luminosity, constellations and systems, and potential planets of each star. Even within 15 light-years, there are stars that are bigger and brighter than the Sun. Space is truly staggering and humbling.