Are the Brightest Stars Near Earth Dangerous?

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There are many super bright stars near Earth and in our galaxy, the Milky Way. In fact here are the 10 brightest stars in our neck of the galactic woods!

10. Betelgeuse

At 430 light years away, this star is still bright in the sky, meaning that it's super bright up close. This makes perfect sense considering the fact that Betelgeuse is a Supergiant. This mega bright star produces as much light as 55,000 suns! It was also the first star to have its surface imaged, thanks to the Hubble Telescope in 1996.

9. Archernar

Archernar is the hottest star in our top ten, measuring in at 24,740 to 33,740 degrees Fahrenheit. This star can be up to 5,400 times brighter than our own sun and because it is 144 light years away, its light takes 144 years to be seen on Earth. As it burns its hydrogen into helium, Archernar will eventually become a white dwarf.

8. Procyon

This star is double the size and seven times the brightness of our sun. Residing in the constellation Canis Minor (Little Dog), this star is actually less bright than many of the stars on this list. Yet, it is very close to Earth, about 11.4 light years away, making it appear much brighter than those farther out in space. Procyon is starting to die and is converting its hydrogen into helium and is currently one of the largest stars within 20 light years of Earth.

7. Rigel

This star is in the constellation of Orion; Rigel marks the heel of the hunter Orion and means "foot" in Arabic. A blue super giant, Rigel shines 40,000 times brighter than our sun! Even though its 775 light years away, it's still a bright spot in the night sky.

6. Capella

Capella is a star system comprised of two giant yellow stars and two red dwarf stars. Combined, these stars are brighter than 130 suns. At 42 light years away, the star system is very visible in the night sky. These stars are also in the process of dying and will eventually become white dwarfs.

5. Vega

Vega is a dwarf star and packs a powerful punch with a brightness of 54 times more than our sun. There is a disk of gas that surrounds the star and it is believed that our own solar system developed in a much similar way. You can go outside at night with a pair of binoculars and easily see Vega against the dark sky. Plus, Vega used to be the North Star, but as gravity from the sun and moon shifts Earth on its axis, it is no longer in the correct position to be the North Star. However, in about 14,000 years it will reclaim the title once again.

4. Arcturus

As the brightest star in the northern hemisphere, Arcturus, is an orange giant and is 215 times brighter than our sun. The star is 37 light years away and is quickly approaching death. Once the precious balance between the force of gravity and pressure from within the star collapses, the outer material of the star will be thrown out into space to create a planetary nebula, while the core will form a white dwarf star.

3. Alpha Centauri

Alpha Centauri is actually made up of three stars, not just one. Alpha Centauri A and B are the brightest in the system while the smallest is a red dwarf called Alpha Centauri C. At 4.3 light years away, this star system is our closest in the vastness of space beyond our solar system. Alpha Centauri A is very much like our own sun, but is 1.5 times brighter. Alpha Centauri C is the closest of the three stars to our own sun, earning it the title of Proxima Centauri.

2. Canopus

Located 316 light years from Earth, Canopus is still very bright in the sky because it is 14,800 times brighter than our sun! White in color, this super giant is on its way to becoming a white dwarf as it's now turning its helium into carbon in the core of the star. Because of this process, Canopus is now 65 times larger than the sun. Once it dies, it will become a neon-oxygen white dwarf, a type of star that is very rare in the cosmos. It will end up being one of the largest white dwarfs in our galaxy.

1. Sirius

Coming from the Greek word for "scorching," Sirius is the brightest star in our night sky. This star knocks all of the competition out of the water in that it is twice as bright as the second brightest star! Located in the constellation Canis Major, which means the Big Dog, Sirius is often referred to as the Dog Star. With a brightness 23 times that of our sun, Sirius is only 8.5 light years away. Its extreme closeness to our planet explains why it appears so bright to us. It seems to be stable for now and gives no indication of being near death. All of these stars are stable for now so there is no need for worry. But there are dangerous stars nearby which are not necessarily the brightest. There is one huge star which is in the process of dying. Google the name Eta Carinae. Look for it's image on APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) and read about this one. It is seen mostly from the Southern hemisphere.

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Source by Sara Howard

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