Pale red dot

In dozens of sci-fi stories, heroes and villains alike have ventured to the Centauri system. There’s a good reason: it’s the nearest star to the sun. To be accurate, its the nearest stars to the sun, and of the three stars making up that system, the nearest one is Proxima Centauri, a mere 4.24 light-years away instead of 4.37 light-years for the larger, more sun-like binary stars called Centauri A and B.

Proxima is part of that three-star system, but it’s isolated enough that...

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