The closest star system to our Solar System is Alpha Centauri.

But is our Solar System the closest star system to Alpha Centuari?

If not, which star system is?


1 Answer 1


The sun is the nearest star to Alpha Centauri (unless you count Proxima Centauri, which is really part of the same system).

There is a very small and dim pair of brown dwarfs, called Luhman 16 that are closer, at about 3.6 light years from Alpha Centauri. Brown dwarfs are not true stars, but they do glow from their own heat. They were only discovered in 2011. It is possible that there are other very dim objects, but these would not be stars either in the strict sense.

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    $\begingroup$ To add for context on the distance of Luhman 16: the Sun is around 4.2 light-years from Alpha Centauri. (Thanks!) $\endgroup$
    – badroit
    May 18, 2020 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ It's a bit confusing when you say the Sun is the nearest star, but then say there is a pair closer. I think what you are saying is that these are not stars in the strict sense, but since that attaches to the "other very dim objects" it's not entirely clear that it applies to these two stars as well. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    May 18, 2020 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think I said that there are a pair of stars closer, since I said "brown dwarfs", but I've added a short edit. $\endgroup$
    – James K
    May 19, 2020 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ For the distances between stars I used the recons data recons.org (I found a version that has the positional data in xyz format, which simplifies things. Recons only has stars, I think I found luhman 16 in a web search, but i forget the magic words but the result was on Wikipedia $\endgroup$
    – James K
    May 19, 2020 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ If you have XYZ galactic coordinates for two stars, wouldn't the distance between them just be SQRT((X(1) - X(2))^2 + (Y(1)-Y(2))^2 + (Z(1)-Z(2))^2)). $\endgroup$ May 19, 2020 at 22:13

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