Barnard's Star

Stellar classification



  • X -3
  • Y 1
  • Z 5
→ Sol: 6

Object type

  • Variable of BY Dra type
  • Star
  • Double or multiple star
  • Infra-Red source
  • High proper-motion Star
  • Variable Star
  • X-ray source
simbad:NAME Barnard's star


Barnard's Star is a very-low-mass red dwarf about 6 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the fourth-nearest known individual star to the Sun (after the three components of the Alpha Centauri system) and the closest star in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere. Despite its proximity, with a dim apparent magnitude of +9.5, the star is invisible to the unaided eye; it is much brighter in the infrared than in visible light.

The star is named after the American astronomer E. E. Barnard. He was not the first to observe the star (it appeared on Harvard University plates in 1888 and 1890), but in 1916 he measured its proper motion (which is a function of its close proximity to Earth, and not of its actual space velocity) as 10.3 arcseconds per year, which remains the largest proper motion of any star relative to the Sun. This is likely to be the fastest star, as its close proximity to the Sun, as well as its high velocity make it unlikely any faster object remains undiscovered. In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN) to catalogue and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN approved the name Barnard's Star for this star on 1 February 2017 and it is now so entered in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.

Barnard's Star is among the most studied red dwarfs because of its proximity and favorable location for observation near the celestial equator. Historically, research on Barnard's Star has focused on measuring its stellar characteristics, its astrometry, and also refining the limits of possible extrasolar planets. Although Barnard's Star is an ancient star, it still experiences star flare events, one being observed in 1998.

The star has also been the subject of some controversy. For a decade, from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, Peter van de Kamp claimed that there were one or more gas giants in orbit around it. Although the presence of small terrestrial planets around Barnard's Star remains a possibility, Van de Kamp's specific claims of large gas giants were refuted in the mid-1970s.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Barnard's Star", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.