Closest Star System Discovered Since 1916

Posted on April 27, 2013

Wise J104915.57-531906 Star System

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has discovered a pair of stars that has taken over the title for the third-closest star system to the sun. The star pair is the closest star system discovered since 1916. It is 6.5 light-years away. Both of the stars in the system are brown dwarfs and are very cool and dim. The system has been named WISE J104915.57-531906.

Kevin Luhman, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University and a researcher in Penn State's Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds., said in a statement, "The distance to this brown dwarf pair is 6.5 light-years -- so close that Earth's television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there. It will be an excellent hunting ground for planets because the system is very close to Earth, which makes it a lot easier to see any planets orbiting either of the brown dwarfs."

The image below shows the closest known stars to our Sun. The closest star system to Earth consists of Alpha Centauri, 4.4 light-years away, and Proxima Centauri, at 4.2 light-years.

The closets stars to our Sun

Image (top): NASA/JPL/Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF
Image: (second): Janella Williams, Penn State University