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Breaktrhough Discuss: “The Alpha Centauri System: A Beckoning Neighbor”

Date: 12-13 April 2021

Location: US,

The conference can be watched live at

As the closest star system and planetary system to our own, at 4.37 light-years (1.34 parsecs), Alpha Centauri is naturally an object of interest. But its central role in a series of recent scientific discoveries makes it even more intriguing.

The Alpha Centauri system consists of two sun-like stars – α Centauri A (Rigel Kentaurus) and α Centauri B (Toliman) – and a red dwarf, Centauri C (Proxima Centauri). In the past few years several planets have been confirmed orbiting Proxima Centauri; one appears to be Earth-sized and in the star’s “habitable zone.” There has even been a detection of narrow-band radio signals from the direction of the dwarf star. Although these signals are most likely terrestrial interference, they have reignited an interest in Alpha Centauri across space science. And recent results suggest the possible presence of a giant planet in the habitable zone of Rigel Kentaurus (α Centauri A). Space and ground-based programs are underway to further study and confirm planets in the system. Furthermore, a number of promising approaches to probe missions to the system later in the century are now in development.

This year's virtual edition of Breakthrough Discuss 2021 challenges us to consider:

  1. Leading methods for mapping the system
  2. Prospects for life in the system
  3. State-of-the-art technologies enabling missions to the system

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