Naturally, the closest star to the Earth is the central star of our solar system: the Sun. Our star belongs to the yellow dwarf category and has existed for about 5 billion years. Without the Sun, life on Earth wouldn’t be possible. The star is found 150 million kilometres (93 million miles) from the Earth, which correspond to a distance of 8.5 light minutes (light takes 8 minutes and 30 seconds to cover the distance that separates the Earth from the Sun.
However, apart from the Sun, there are many other stars that are near our planet (in astronomical terms). The nearest of all of them is Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf that belongs to the stellar system of Alpha Centauri.
Proxima Centauri and its stellar system
As I have already mentioned, apart from the Sun, the closest star to the Earth is Proxima Centauri, also known as Alpha Centauri C. This star was discovered in 1915 by the Scottish astronomer Robert Innes.
Proxima Centauri lies at a distance of 4.24 light-years (40.1 trillion kilometres or 24.9 trillion miles) from us, a very short distance in astronomy. This means that its light takes 4.24 years to reach us, for which, in fact, we are seeing the star as it was in the past (this phenomenon happens with all the bodies of the universe).
Moreover, we know since 2016 that Proxima Centauri has a rocky planet orbiting around it. According to the group of scientists that made the discovery, the planet could possibly have moderate temperatures.
Finally, Proxima Centauri belongs to a system of 3 stars that orbit the ones around the others. The two main stars of this system, Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B, lie 4.37 light years away from the Earth. The third star is the one that is found the closest to the Earth: Proxima Centauri.