Last August, about four light years away from the small star, scientists have found a planet orbiting the Centauri. Due to the presence of a temperature suited for liquid water, this Earth-sized body named Proxima 'B' has enthralled experts about its capability to support life.
Around four light years away from the planet lay a celestial entity named Proxima Centauri. On a first glimpse, the star looks to have nothing in common with the Sun of the Milky Way galaxy. With only a tenth as massive and one-thousandth as luminous, the red dwarf body is cool and miniscule.
If there is one fascinating aspect that makes the star a distinct resemblance of the Earth's energy-giving celestial body, it will be the presence of a regular cycle of starspots.
Pretty much like the sunspots, these marks are smudges or patches on a star's surface which have a lower temperature compared to its surrounding parts. The cooler area contains magnetic fields that control the plasma and form spots. Higher magnetic presence influences or modifies the quantity and distribution of starspots.
The Earth's sun undergoes an 11-year activity cycle wherein the patches come and go. At the solar minimum, smudges are absent. At the solar maximum, however, a hundred sunspots can conceal around one percent of the sun's surface.
It has been observed that the Proxima Centauri also follows the same process but only within a span of seven years. Compared to the Milky Way's solar body, at least one-fifth of the star shrouds the patches which are larger than the Earth's sunspots.
In addition, the Centauri is a flare entity which means that the convection activities within its body allow the star to make dramatic or random changes in brightness. These bursts of light are also crucial to the Proxima's long life span. It is estimated that the star will approach middle age for the next four trillion years which is 300 times the age of the present universe.
Moreover, in order to get a clearer observation of the stars proximal to Earth's location, a group of astronomers intends to set up a camera directed at the Alpha Centauri which is the closest stellar system at 4.3 light years away.
The project, which has been named after the 'Pale Blue Dot' photo from the Voyager 1, seeks to establish a telescope that will capture pictures of planets orbiting the stars.