The binary stars of Alpha Centauri, as seen from Saturn


9 Responses to “The binary stars of Alpha Centauri, as seen from Saturn”

  1. Ryan Patridge says:

    Inspiration drove me to mash up the Cassini team’s image with Stanek’s as two simple HD desktop wallpapers:

    Someone with talent could do better,  though I did try to honor the source images by ensuring the non-space pixels of both images remained unaltered.

  2. Guido Núñez-Mujica says:

    We have seen people our ancestors would not believe.

    I just hope they are not lost like tears in the rain.

  3. Mitchell Glaser says:

    A truly amazing image! I don’t recall ever seeing the stars of Alpha Centauri separately before.

    The importance of this discovery can hardly be overstated: because there appear to be more multiple star systems than single star systems, now that we have found an Earth-sized planet in a binary system right next door to us Drake’s equation virtually guarantees life elsewhere in the universe. That might still be a bit optimistic, but the odds have skewed hugely in favor of it.

  4. niktemadur says:

    Important additional factoid, Maggie:
    Centauri may actually be a trinary system, consisting of Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B and red-dwarf Proxima Centauri, too dim to see here but is the nearest known star to Sol.

    Currently, Proxima is 0.2 light-years from the Alpha Centauri twins, but it hasn’t yet been positively confirmed if it’s gravitationally bound, or if it’s just “passing through”, so to speak.  Although at that distance, it’s surely generating quite a stir in that Oort Cloud.
    Think about this:  two suns and an impressive swarm of eccentric-orbit, first-time comets (HUGE tails).  Wouldn’t wanna be there, but send an unmanned probe and beam back some uncompressed digital postcards… please?

  5. Does anyone know why only those 2 stars are visible? I would have thought that if the camera’s lens was open enough to sufficiently capture the light of these twin suns, then it seems like there would be so many other stars visible as well.

  6. huskerdont says:

    “…a still more glorious dawn awaits; not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise.”

  7. awjt says:

    It’s beautiful, and shows humanity’s march of technology.  First, spotting the planets and differentiating them from stars.  Then, a few hundred years later, actually visiting the planets.  Then, differentiating distant planets from their stars… and… eventually in a few hundred years or maybe another hundred years… visiting those planets on other stars…  It’s a beautiful thing.

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