The nearest stars to Earth include some of the brightest stars in the sky. The closest star system to the Sun, Alpha Centauri, is the third brightest stellar point of light in the sky. Sirius, the brightest star in Earth’s night sky, is the seventh individual nearest star to the solar system.
Procyon, the eighth brightest star, lies only 11 light-years away, and Altair, the 12th brightest star, is 17 light-years away. The bright Vega and Fomalhaut are within 30 light-years of Earth, and Arcturus, Pollux, and Denebola are within 40 light-years.
Most bright stars in the solar neighbourhood are not exceptionally luminous. While they are tens of times more luminous than the Sun, the nearest visible stars appear bright primarily because they are nearby.
However, the majority of the 100 nearest stars (see list below) are not bright at all. They are red dwarfs, too faint to be visible to the unaided eye. These stars make up more than three-quarters of all stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and the solar neighbourhood is no exception. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, is itself a red dwarf.
Red dwarfs are the smallest and coolest stars on the main sequence, as well as the most long-lived. Due to their low mass, they can stay on the main sequence, fusing hydrogen to helium, for trillions of years before they run out of fuel. In comparison, our Sun has a lifespan of only 10 billion years.
The 10 closest individual stars to Earth are Proxima Centauri, Rigil Kentaurus, Toliman, Barnard’s Star, Wolf 359, Lalande 21185, Sirius, BL Ceti, UV Ceti, and Ross 154. Most of these stars are red dwarfs, invisible without binoculars and telescopes. Only Sirius and the two brighter components of the Alpha Centauri system (Rigil Kentaurus and Toliman) do not belong to this group.
The three nearest stars to Earth are part of the same star system: Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri lies in the southern constellation Centaurus. The triple star system contains the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, the nearest individual star to the Sun, and its brighter and larger companions Rigil Kentaurus and Toliman.
The distance to the nearest star is 4.2465 light-years (1.30197 parsecs). The companions lie 4.37 light-years (1.34 parsecs) away.
Most of these stars are cool orange (class K) dwarfs. Sirius and Altair are class A stars, Procyon is an F-type star, and Rigil Kentaurus and Tau Ceti are yellow dwarfs (G-type main sequence stars) like the Sun.
Nearest stars with planets
Proxima Centauri hosts the nearest planetary system to Earth. One of the three known planets, Proxima Centauri b, orbits in the star’s habitable zone. It is slightly larger and more massive than Earth. The planet was discovered in 2013, and its existence was confirmed in 2016.
Two other planets were detected in 2019 in 2022. Proxima c, whose existence is still in question, is a super-Earth with a mass about 7 times that of our planet, and Proxima d has a mass of at least 0.29 Earth masses. The planets orbit outside of Proxima’s habitable zone.
Other nearby stars with potentially habitable planets include the red dwarf Ross 128, the Sun-like star Tau Ceti, and the red dwarfs Gliese 1061, Luyten’s Star, Teegarden’s Star, Wolf 1061, Gliese 229, Gliese 880, and Gliese 667.
Several of the Sun’s closer neighbours – Wolf 359, Lalande 21185, Epsilon Eridani, Lacaille 9352, and Struve 2398 – host planets that orbit outside their parent stars’ habitable zones.
Nearest stars by type
Most stars in the Sun’s neighbourhood are cool class M dwarfs. The nearest stars in the hot, luminous classes (O, B, WR, LBV) lie at much greater distances. This is fortunate for life on Earth because exceptionally luminous stars go through their evolutionary stages quickly due to their high masses and many end their lives in supernova events.
- Nearest O-type star: Zeta Ophiuchi (366 ly)
- Nearest B-type star: Regulus (Alpha Leonis, 79.02 ly)
- Nearest A-type star: Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris, 8.60 ly)
- Nearest F-type star: Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris, 11.46 ly)
- Nearest G-type star: Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri A, 4.37 ly)
- Nearest K-type star: Toliman (Alpha Centauri B, 4.37 ly)
- Nearest M-type star: Proxima Centauri (Alpha Centauri C, 4.2465 ly)
- Nearest Wolf-Rayet (WR) star: Regor (Gamma2 Velorum, 1,200 ly)
- Nearest luminous blue variable (LBV): P Cygni (5,250 ly)
- Nearest giant star: Pollux (Beta Geminorum, 33.78 ly)
- Nearest supergiant star: Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris, 323 – 433 ly)
- Nearest brown dwarfs: Luhman 16 (6.503 ly)
- Nearest white dwarf: Sirius B (8.709 ly)
- Nearest supernova candidate: IK Pegasi (154 ly)
The distance to the nearest supergiant is uncertain. Polaris (the North Star), a yellow supergiant located between 323 and 433 light-years away, is probably the nearest supergiant to the Sun.
Some sources list the red supergiants Betelgeuse and Antares as the nearest stars in this luminosity class, but recent estimates place these stars 548 and 550 light-years away. Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky, lies about 310 light-years away and was once classified as an intermediate luminosity supergiant (class F). However, recent studies give it the classification A9II, indicating a bright giant.
Closest stars to Earth
The closest star to Earth is Proxima Centauri (Alpha Centauri C), a red dwarf located only 4.2465 light-years away. Proxima is the faintest and smallest component of the Alpha Centauri system, which also includes Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri A) and Toliman (Alpha Centauri B).
Proxima is a red dwarf of the spectral type M5.5Ve. It has a mass of only 0.1221 solar masses and a radius of 0.1542 solar radii. With a surface temperature of 3,042 K, it shines with 0.0017 solar luminosities. The star’s estimated age is 4.85 billion years, which makes Proxima a little older than the Sun (4.603 billion years).
Proxima Centauri hosts at least two planets. One of these, Proxima b, orbits within the star’s habitable zone. Proxima d, discovered in 2019, orbits too close to the star and Proxima c, detected in 2022, is too far for liquid water to form on its surface. The existence of Proxima c has not yet been definitively confirmed.
Like many nearby red dwarfs, Proxima Centauri is classified as a flare star. Its brightness can increase dramatically because of magnetic activity in its atmosphere. Whether or not the flare outbursts could strip any orbiting planets of their atmospheres is a matter of ongoing debate.
Rigil Kentaurus and Toliman
The Alpha Centauri system is the third brightest point of light in the sky. The two brighter components, Rigil Kentaurus and Toliman, are the second and third nearest individual stars to the Sun. They appear as a single star to the unaided eye and shine at magnitude -0.27 from a distance of 4.37 light-years.
Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri A) is a yellow dwarf of the spectral type G2V. It is the nearest Sun-like star to Earth. It hosts a candidate exoplanet, Alpha Centauri Ab, discovered in 2021. The existence of the planet has not been confirmed.
Toliman is an orange dwarf with the stellar classification K1V. It is the nearest K-type star to the Sun. It has an estimated age of 5.3 billion years.
The two stars orbit each other with a period of 79.762 years. Rigil Kentaurus is slightly larger and more massive than the Sun, and Toliman is slightly smaller and less massive.
Barnard’s Star is the nearest star to the Sun in the northern celestial hemisphere. It lies 5.9629 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. With an apparent magnitude of 9.511, it is invisible to the unaided eye.
The star is a red dwarf with a mass of 0.144 solar masses and a radius of 0.196 solar radii. It shines with 0.0035 solar luminosities with an effective temperature of 3,134 K. It has an estimated age of about 10 billion years.
Barnard’s Star was named after American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard, who measured its proper motion – the highest known for any star – in 1916. It is catalogued as Gliese 699 in the Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars and has the variable star designation V2500 Ophiuchi.
Barnard’s Star is classified as a variable star of the BY Draconis type. It exhibits variations in brightness due to starspots that come in and out of view as it rotates. The star also experiences flare events.
Barnard’s Star hosts a candidate exoplanet with a mass at least 3.23 times that of Earth. The planet was detected in 2018, but its existence has been questioned.
Wolf 359 is a red dwarf of the spectral type M6V. It shines at magnitude 13.507 from a distance of 7.856 light-years. It lies in the constellation Leo. The star is classified as a UV Ceti-type variable. It exhibits brightness variations due to stellar flares.
Wolf 359 is one of the lowest-mass stars discovered to date. It has a mass of 0.11 solar masses and a radius of 0.144 solar radii. With a surface temperature of 2,749 K, it shines with only 0.0011 solar luminosities. The star is believed to be between 100 and 350 million years old.
Two planets were detected orbiting Wolf 359 in 2019. Neither planet orbits in the habitable zone; one is too close to the star and the other, too far.
Lalande 21185 (Gliese 411) is a red dwarf with the stellar classification M2V. It lies 8.3044 light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. With an apparent magnitude of 7.520, the star is invisible to the unaided eye. It has 39% of the Sun’s mass and a radius of 0.392 solar radii. It shines with 0.0195 solar luminosities with an effective temperature of 3,601 K. The star’s estimated age is between 5 and 10 billion years.
Like Barnard’s Star and Proxima Centauri, Lalande 21185 is a flare star of the BY Draconis type. Observations show that it is relatively quiet compared to other variable stars in this class.
The star hosts at least two planets, designated Gliese 411 b and c. Gliese 411 b has a mass of at least 2.64 Earth masses and orbits the star with a period of 12.9395 days at a distance of 0.0788 astronomical units. Gliese 411 c is at least 14.2 times more massive than Earth. It completes an orbit around the parent star every 2,806 days at a separation of 2.845 astronomical units.
A third planet, Gliese 411 d, was detected in 2021, but its existence has not been confirmed. All three planets orbit outside the star’s habitable zone.
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, shining at magnitude -1.46 from a distance of 8.60 light-years. It lies in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog, and is popularly known as the Dog Star.
Sirius is a white main sequence star of the spectral type A0mA1 Va. It has a mass 2.063 times that of the Sun and a radius of 1.711 solar radii. It is 25.4 times more luminous than the Sun and has a surface temperature of 9,940 K. The star spins faster than the Sun, with a projected rotational velocity of 16 km/s. It has an estimated age of about 242 million years.
Sirius has a faint companion, the white dwarf Sirius B. The companion is sometimes affectionally called the Pup. The stellar remnant packs a mass of 1.018 solar masses within a radius of only 0.0084 solar radii (slightly smaller than Earth’s radius). It has an apparent magnitude of 8.44.
Sirius A and Sirius B are separated by 8.2 to 31.5 astronomical units during their orbit. They have an orbital period of 50.1284 years.
BL Ceti and UV Ceti (Luyten 726-8)
The binary system Luyten 726-8 (Gliese 65) consists of a pair of red dwarfs located 8.87 and 8.72 light-years away in the constellation Cetus. The fainter component, UV Ceti (Luyten 726-8 B), is a prototype for a class of flare stars known as UV Ceti variables. Its brightness has been observed to increase by 75 times within 20 seconds due to flare activity. The star shines at magnitude 13.2 and has the stellar classification M6V.
The brighter of the two red dwarfs, BL Ceti (Luyten 726-8 A), has an apparent magnitude of 12.7 and the spectral classification M5.5 V. It is classified as a UV Ceti-type variable but does not show as dramatic an activity as UV Ceti.
Both stars have a mass of about 0.1 solar masses and a radius of 0.14 solar radii. They orbit each other with a period of 26.52 days at a separation that varies from 2.1 to 8.8 astronomical units.
Ross 154 is a red dwarf located 9.7063 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. Like Proxima Centauri and Barnard’s Star, it is classified as a flare star. It has the variable star designation V1216 Sagittarii. Shining at magnitude 10.44, the star is invisible to the unaided eye.
Ross 154 has a mass of only 0.177 solar masses and a radius of 0.200 solar radii. With a surface temperature of 3,248 K, it shines with 0.0038 solar luminosities. It has an estimated age of less than 1 billion years.
103 nearest stars to the Sun
The list below includes star systems, individual stars, stellar remnants, and substellar objects located within 20 light-years (6.13 parsecs) of Earth. There are 131 objects currently known to lie within this distance. They are divided among 94 star systems. Only 22 objects are brighter than magnitude 6.5, i.e. visible to the unaided eye.
Most objects on the list (103) are main sequence stars. There are also 6 white dwarfs, 21 brown dwarfs, and a sub-brown dwarf. Only true stars (objects massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium) are numbered. Substellar objects (brown dwarfs) and stellar remnants (white dwarfs) are not.
|Order||Star||Star system||Distance (ly)||Spectral class||Apparent magnitude|
|1||Proxima Centauri|| |
|4.2465 ± 0.0003||M5.5Ve||10.43 – 11.11|
|4||Barnard’s Star||5.9629 ± 0.0004||M4.0V||9.511|
|Luhman 16 A||Luhman 16||6.5029|
|Luhman 16 B||T0.5 ± 1|
|Y4V||25.00 ± 0.53|
|5||Wolf 359||7.856 ± 0.001||M6V||13.507|
|6||Lalande 21185||8.3044 ± 0.0007||M2V||7.520|
|7||Sirius||Alpha Canis Majoris||8.60 ± 0.04||A0mA1 Va||-1.46|
|Sirius B||8.709 ± 0.005||DA2||8.44|
|8||UV Ceti||Luyten 726-8||8.72 ± 0.01||M6 V||13.2|
|9||BL Ceti||8.87 ± 0.02||M5.5 V||12.7|
|10||Ross 154||9.7063 ± 0.0009||M3.5V||10.44|
|11||Ross 248||10.3057 ± 0.0014||M6V||12.23 – 12.34|
|12||Ran (Epsilon Eridani)||10.4749 ± 0.0037||K2V||3.736|
|13||Lacaille 9352||10.7241 ± 0.0007||M0.5V||7.34|
|14||Ross 128||11.0074 ± 0.0011||M4V||11.13|
|15||EZ Aquarii A|| |
11.109 ± 0.034
|16||EZ Aquarii B||M||13.27|
|17||EZ Aquarii C||M||14.03|
|18||Procyon||Alpha Canis Minoris||11.402 ± 0.032||F5 IV–V||0.34|
|19||61 Cygni A||61 Cygni||11.4039|
|20||61 Cygni B||K7V||6.05|
|21||Struve 2398 A||Struve 2398||11.4908 ± 0.0009||M3V||8.94|
|22||Struve 2398 B||M3.5V||9.70|
|23||GX Andromedae||Groombridge 34||11.6191|
|26||Epsilon Indi A|| |
|K5V||4.8310 ± 0.0005|
|Epsilon Indi Ba||12.05 ± 0.03||T1||12.3 (J)|
|Epsilon Indi Bb||T6||13.2 (J)|
|27||Tau Ceti||11.9118 ± 0.0074||G8V||3.50 ± 0.01|
|28||Gliese 1061||11.984 ± 0.001||M5.5V||13.03|
|29||YZ Ceti||12.1222 ± 0.0015||M4.0Ve||12.03 – 12.18|
|sdM1 or M1.5V||8.853 ± 0.008|
|34||SCR 1845-6357 A||SCR 1845-6357||13.0638|
|SCR 1845-6357 B||T6||13.3 (J)|
|35||Kruger 60 A||Kruger 60||13.0724|
|36||Kruger 60 B||M4.0V||11.40|
|38||Ross 614 A||Ross 614||13.363|
|39||Ross 614 B||M8V||14.23|
|Van Maanen’s Star||14.0718|
|43||Wolf 424 A||Wolf 424||14.595|
|dM6e||13.22 ± 0.01|
|44||Wolf 424 B||dM6e||13.21 ± 0.01|
|LP 145-141||15.1226 ± 0.0013||DQ6||11.50|
|48||Gliese 1245 A|| |
|49||Gliese 1245 B||M6||14.01|
|50||Gliese 1245 C||M5.5||16.75|
|T9||16.53 ± 0.02 (J)|
|55||Gliese 412 A||Gliese 412||15.9969|
|56||Gliese 412 B||M6.0V||14.45|
|Omicron2 Eridani B||DA4||9.52|
|61||Omicron2 Eridani C||M4.5eV||11.17|
|63||70 Ophiuchi A||70 Ophiuchi||16.7074|
|64||70 Ophiuchi B||K4V||6.07|
|66||EI Cancri A||EI Cancri||16.800|
|67||EI Cancri B||M7V|
|T6||14.328 ± 0.095 (J)|
|2MASS 0939−2448 A||2MASS 0939−2448||17.41|
|T8||15.61 ± 0.09 (J)|
|2MASS 0939−2448 B|
|73||Stein 2051 A||Stein 2051||17.9925|
|Stein 2051 B||DC5||11.19|
|M8.5||18.27 ± 0.03|
|T8V||15.343 ± 0.004 (J)|
|78||Gliese 229 A||18.7906|
|Gliese 229 B||T7V|
|79||Alsafi (Sigma Draconis)||18.7993|
|81||Gliese 570 A|| |
|82||Gliese 570 B||M1V||8.07|
|83||Gliese 570 C||M3V||10.5|
|Gliese 570 D||T7V|
|M1V Fe-1||8.93 – 9.03|
|87||Gliese 752 A||Gliese 752||19.2922|
|88||Gliese 752 B||M8V||17.30|
|91||Eta Cassiopeiae B||K7V||7.51|
|93||36 Ophiuchi B||K1 V||5.03|
|94||36 Ophiuchi C||K5 V||6.34|
|95||YZ Canis Minoris||19.5330|
|Y0.5||21.16 ± 0.36 (J)|
|96||GJ 1005 A||GJ 1005||19.577|
|97||GJ 1005 B|
|98||HR 7703 A||HR 7703||19.609|
|99||HR 7703 B||M4 V||11.50|
|100||82 G. Eridani||19.7045|
|101||Gliese 268 A||Gliese 268||19.7414|
|102||Gliese 268 B||M5Ve||12.45|
|T2.5||13.455 ± 0.030 (J)|