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Skygazers find Earth’s closest young star

Finding a star as young as AP Columbae is very rare. Flickr/tarotastic

Astronomers have a rare new star that is just 27 light years away from Earth, making it the closest young star ever found.

AP Columbae, as the red dwarf star has been named, is just 40 million years old, meaning it was born after dinosaurs became extinct on Earth.

“It’s very rare to find a star so young and doubly rare to find one so close,” said Simon Murphy, a final-year PhD student from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics who was part of the international team that identified AP Columbae.

The star was found using telescopes in Coonabarabran, Chile, Hawaii and California and will be photographed using the Chilean telescope later this year, said Mr Murphy.

“What we would like to do is look for giant planets around AP Columbae, planets even more massive than Jupiter,” he said.

“Because it’s so close, we can take a photo of the region round the star and take a snapshot of the solar system around it.

"That’s something you can’t do with further stars. You can wave your hands and infer that there’s a planet there but you can’t beat a photograph.”

The research team, which included scientists from ANU, Georgia State University and the University of California, have published a paper on their finding in The Astronomical Journal.

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