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Tau Ceti

After Alpha Centauri, Tau Ceti is the closest star thought to be a close match for the Sun in size, general energy output, and age. Tau Ceti is a single star, with no evidence for either planets or companion stars, and is extremely similar to Alpha Centauri B (the dimmer star in the Alpha Centauri binary) in both temperature and luminosity. Tau Ceti puts out slightly less than half as much energy as the Sun, but (as with Alpha Centauri B) this is not a crippling limitation for developing an Earthlike planet. As a single star, moreover, Tau Ceti lacks the potential problems associated with binary stars in maintaining stable planetary orbits.

Tau Ceti is famous for being one of the first stars to be investigated by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program. Project Ozma, one of the first concerted radio "listening" efforts, monitored the stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals of possibly artificial origin. Since then, many Sunlike stars, Tau Ceti included, have been reexamined by other SETI programs. (Epsilon Eridani is now known to be at most a billion or so years old, and hence is now considered a much less promising target for SETI investigations). So far, the results for all stars have been completely negative.

Renditions of the Tau Ceti area

  1. Back towards the Sun from Tau Ceti. The Sun appears near Arcturus, in Bootes, which is still recognizable for the most part. As seen from Tau Ceti, the Sun is about magnitude +2.7, similar to the dimmer stars in the Big Dipper.

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