Volume 598, February 2017
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||30 January 2017|
Proxima’s orbit around α Centauri⋆
1 Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía (CNRS UMI 3386), Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Las Condes Santiago Chile
2 LESIA (UMR 8109), Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, UPMC, Univ. Paris-Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
3 Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, Lagrange UMR 7293, CS 34229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
4 Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
Received: 19 October 2016
Accepted: 14 November 2016
Proxima and α Centauri AB have almost identical distances and proper motions with respect to the Sun. Although the probability of such similar parameters is, in principle, very low, the question as to whether they actually form a single gravitationally bound triple system has been open since the discovery of Proxima one century ago. Owing to HARPS high-precision absolute radial velocity measurements and the recent revision of the parameters of the α Cen pair, we show that Proxima and α Cen are gravitationally bound with a high degree of confidence. The orbital period of Proxima is ≈ 550 000 yr. With an eccentricity of 0.50+0.08-0.09, Proxima comes within 4.3+1.1-0.9 kau of α Cen at periastron, and is currently close to apastron (13.0+0.3-0.1 kau). This orbital motion may have influenced the formation or evolution of the recently discovered planet orbiting Proxima, as well as circumbinary planet formation around α Cen.
Key words: astrometry / proper motions / stars: individual: Proxima / stars: individual: Alpha Cen / binaries: visual
© ESO, 2017
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