Earth's closest neighbouring star discovered
Posted on: 03:10 PM IST Aug 30, 2011
Washington: Planetary scientists claim to have uncovered a new stellar neighbour with the discovery of the closest young star to Earth. An international team has carried out a research and shown that the star, named AP Columbae, is the closest so-called "pre main-sequence" star, 'The Astronomical Journal' reported in its latest edition.
"Pre main-sequence stars are much younger than the Sun. Using telescopes in Coonabarabran, Chile, Hawaii and California we have shown that the faint, red-dwarf star AP Columbae is the closest such star to the Earth," Simon Murphy,a team member from the Australian National University, said.
He added: "For decades it was believed that young stars only resided in vast star-forming regions like Orion Nebula.
These regions are typically several hundred light years away from the Earth. With the advent of accurate, all sky surveys we can now find young stars much closer to home." AP Columbae, an otherwise innocuous red dwarf star in the
constellation of Columba is a comparably close 27 light years away from Earth and approximately 40 million years old.
"To put that into perspective, it means this star was formed after the dinosaurs became extinct and when mammals first started to become dominant on Earth," Murphy said.
The star is the newest member of a group of young stars known as the Argus Association. The age and close proximity of AP Columbae make it a prime candidate for getting good images, say the planetary scientists.
"Because AP Columbae is so close we are able to hunt for giant gas planets at high resolution, close to the star. Later this year we are hoping to use the eight metre Gemini South telescope in Chile to observe any planets that might be
present," he added.