Ross 248 – a small star in the Alpha Quadrant

Ross 248 (HH Andromedae) is a small star about 10.30 light-years (3.16 parsecs) from Earth. It is a star in the Alpha Quadrant that was located approximately ten light-years from Sol. It is in the direction of the northern constellation of Andromeda. Despite its proximity to the Earth, this star is too dim to be seen with the naked eye. Ross 248 was first cataloged by Frank Elmore Ross in 1926 with his second list of proper motion stars. Ross first reported on this star in his “Second List of New Proper-Motion Stars,” Astronomical Journal.

The star is a UV Ceti-type variable star and a red dwarf. It is too dim to be included in the Hipparcos survey. It is a dim, main-sequence red dwarf that is comparable to the brighter of the two stars, Gliese 623a.

Within the next 80,000 years, Ross 248 is predicted to be the nearest star to the Sun for a brief time, overtaking the current nearest star and triple system, Alpha Centauri. Examining the proper motion of Ross 248 has found no evidence of a brown dwarf or stellar companion orbiting between 100–1400 AU, and other unsuccessful searches have been attempted using both the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera and by near-infrared speckle interferometry. Despite its proximity, it is too dim to be seen with the naked eye.

This star has about 12% of the Sun’s mass and 16% of the Sun’s radius, but only 0.2% of the Sun’s luminosity. The space velocity components of this star in the galactic coordinate system are [U, V, W] = [–32.9 ± 0.7, –74.3 ± 1.3, 0.0 ± 1.4] km/s. It has a stellar classification of M6 V, which indicates it is a type of main-sequence star known as a red dwarf. The trajectory of Ross 248 will bring it closer to the Solar System. This is a chromospherically active star. With high probability, there appears to be a long-term cycle of variability with a period of 4.2 years. Any future spacecraft that escaped the Solar System with a velocity of 25.4 km/s would reach this star 37,000 years from now, when the star just passes its nearest approach. This variability causes the star to range in visual magnitude from 12.23 to 12.34. By comparison, the Voyager 1 has an escape velocity of 16.6 km/s.

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