Astronomers have stumbled onto a previously unknown star in Earth's stellar neighborhood, a red dwarf that appears to be the third-closest star system to our own.
"Our new stellar neighbor is a pleasant surprise, since we weren't looking for it," Bonnard Teegarden, an astrophysicist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a written statement.
Teegarden, the lead author of the study, and his colleagues happened upon the star while searching for nearby white dwarfs, the remains of collapsed stars that quickly traverse the night sky. Astronomers track white dwarfs like they track planets and near earth objects, by tracking their change in position over time. The study of these dead stars can then help estimate the mass and ages of galaxies.