Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Barnard's star is a star in the constellation Ophiuchus which is notable for having the largest proper motion (10.3" per year) of any star (other than the Sun) as seen from Earth. This large proper motion was discovered by the astronomer E. E. Barnard in 1916.
Lying at a distance of about 1.8 pc or 5.98 ly, Barnard's star is the fifth closest known star to Earth. Only the Sun and the three components of the Alpha Centauri system are closer. But Barnard's star is a red dwarf (spectral type M4), so despite its proximity it is too faint to see without a telescope or powerful binoculars. Its apparent magnitude is 9.54.
The proper motion at this distance corresponds to a relative lateral speed of 90 km/s.
Its closest neighbour is Ross 154, 1.66 pc or 5.41 ly away.
For many years from 1963 onwards, a substantial number of astronomers accepted a claim by Peter van de Kamp that he had detected a perturbation in the proper motion of Barnard's star consistent with its having one or more planets comparable in mass with Jupiter. When independent data were collected in the 1980s, this conclusion came to be disputed and the consensus is now that van de Kamp's claim was erroneous. During the period that the claim was accorded credibility, it contributed to the star's fame among the science fiction community and the star's adoption as a target for Project Daedalus (a plan for a prototype interstellar space probe).
- E. E. Barnard, A small star with large proper motion, Astronomical Journal 29 (1916) 181–183 (1916AJ.....29..181B)
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