Guardians of the Stars
Luyten 726-8, also known as Gliese 65, is a binary star system that is one of Earth’s nearest neighbors, at about 8.7 light years from Earth in the constellation Cetus. Luyten 726-8B is also known under the variable star designation UV Ceti, being the archetype for the class of flare stars.
The two stars are of nearly equal brightness, with visual magnitudes of 12.57 and 11.99 as seen from Earth. They orbit one another every 26.5 years. The distance between the two stars varies from 2.1 to 8.8 astronomical units (310 to 1,320 Gm). The Luyten 726-8 system is approximately 2.63 parsecs (8.58 ly) from Earth’s Solar System, in the constellation Cetus, and is thus the seventh-closest star system to Earth. Its own nearest neighbor is Tau Ceti, 0.88 pc (2.87 ly) away from it.
Luyten-726-8A was found to be a variable star and given the variable star designation BL Ceti. It is a red dwarf of spectral type M5.5e. It is also a flare star, and classified as a UV Ceti variable type, but it is not nearly as remarkable or extreme in its behavior as its companion star UV Ceti. BL Ceti is also known as G 272-061.
Soon after the discovery of Luyten 726-8A, the slightly brighter companion star Luyten 726-8B was discovered. Like Luyten 726-8A, this star was also found to be variable and given the variable star designation UV Ceti. Although UV Ceti was not the first flare star discovered, it is the most prominent example of such a star, so similar flare stars are now classified as UV Ceti type variable stars. This star goes through fairly extreme changes of brightness: for instance, in 1952, its brightness increased by 75 times in only 20 seconds. UV Ceti is a red dwarf of spectral type M6.0e.
Some protoplanet fragments and a large asteroid field line the edge of the system, however the variable nature of the stars in Luyten 726-8 make any attempt to make use of them questionable.