By Martin Beech

As our closest stellar significant other and composed of 2 Sun-like stars and a 3rd small dwarf superstar, Alpha Centauri is a perfect checking out floor of astrophysical versions and has performed a vital function within the heritage and improvement of recent astronomy—from the 1st guesses at stellar distances to knowing how our personal megastar, the sunlight, may need developed. it's also the host of the closest identified exoplanet, an ultra-hot, Earth-like planet lately discovered.

Just 4.4 gentle years away Alpha Centauri can be the obvious objective for humanity’s first directed interstellar area probe. this sort of challenge may possibly display the small-scale constitution of a brand new planetary method and in addition signify step one in what needs to without doubt be humanity’s maximum destiny adventure—exploration of the Milky manner Galaxy itself.

For all of its closeness, α Centauri keeps to tantalize astronomers with many unresolved mysteries, resembling how did it shape, what number planets does it include and the place are they, and the way may possibly we view its broad landscape directly?

In this booklet we movement from the research of person stars to the examine of our sunlight approach and our within reach galactic local. at the means we'll assessment the swiftly constructing fields of exoplanet formation and detection.

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