A catalog to be released on Astronomy & Astrophysics – compiled also taking into account the most recent data collected by the Gaia space mission of ESA – lists the main objects present within a radius of 10 parsecs (30 light years) from the Sun: 541 stars, dwarfs brunettes and exoplanets spread over 339 star systems
Who are our neighbors in the solar system? To answer this, a team of researchers led by astrophysics Céline Reylé of the French CNRS has ideally traced a sphere with the Sun in the center and a radius of 10 parsecs – corresponding to about 30 light years, therefore a volume of just over a hundred thousand light years. cubes. And consulting the astronomical catalogs he compiled a list of all the main objects present in it. Result: 373 stars (including twenty white dwarfs), about ninety brown dwarfs and about eighty exoplanets. For a total of 541 objects distributed in 339 star systems – many of them with two or more stars.
The new list, illustrated in an article to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics , in addition to the data already present in the literature, also takes into account – for about two thirds of the stars – the high-precision photometric and astrometric measurements provided by the recent Gaia Early Data Release 3 . A complete census of known objects within a radius of 10 parsecs, therefore, which also includes parameters such as the spectral class and the radial velocity of the stars, as well as a list of references to facilitate future studies.
“This sample represents a cardinal point for many areas of star and galactic research. At the lowest level, ”observes Richard Smart, researcher at INAF in Turin and co-author of the study, «any model or process proposed must be able to describe the local population». With its 541 objects, the catalog highlights the richness and variety of our “solar quarter” – populated by stars of very different types, masses, sizes, temperatures and ages. Objects that are mostly stars – largely red dwarfs (61 percent), the most common type of star in the Milky Way – but also, in surprising numbers, brown dwarfs and exoplanets. This updated census also shows a percentage of 28 percent of multiple systems – therefore formed by more than one object.
Thanks to their proximity, and therefore to the possibility of precise observations, the stars closest to us constitute a unique laboratory for understanding stellar physics and the galaxy. By reporting the current state of our knowledge of the solar quarter and providing reference stars that can be used as calibration samples for detailed observations with current and future instruments, this list has great potential for professional astronomers, but also for amateur astronomers and the general public. .
Finally, the study takes into consideration how the list could evolve with the entry into operation of the great space and ground-based telescopes of the future. “Between reality and science fiction, the exoplanetary systems closest to the Sun will be the highest-profile targets for the research, with future tools, of biomarkers in their atmospheres”, concludes another of the study’s co-authors, Alessandro Sozzetti of INAF of Turin. . “And they could one day become the first destinations of future human interstellar travel.”
Featured image: Zoomable map (click to access) of objects within 10 parsecs. Credits: galaxymap.org (on Twitter: @galaxy_map)
To know more:
- Read on Astronomy & Astrophysics the article ” The 10 parsec sample in the Gaia era “, by Céline Reylé, Kevin Jardine, Pascal Fouqué, Jose A. Caballero, Richard L. Smart and Alessandro Sozzetti
Provided by INAF