This diagram shows the upcoming conjunction between the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri, and a distant background star. Proxima's gravitational field warps the space around it. This gravitational lensing effect distorts space like a funhouse mirror and bends the path of light from the background star. The result is that the apparent position of the star will shift slightly during Proxima Centauri's passage, as seen in the upper right diagram. If an unseen planet is orbiting Proxima Centauri the star's apparent position will be further offset, as seen at lower left.
Image Type: Illustration
Credit: A. Feild (STScI)
To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: