In the roughly two decades that the Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit, it has shown us many wonderous sights, from giant stellar nurseries where new stars are being born to the heart of distant galaxies, where massive black holes devour these stars to produce new stars and new life. This Hubble image is of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to us other than our own Sun. Though it is only a little over four light years from us , it isn't a mighty super-giant like Rigel or Vega, which would be brighter than the full moon at the same distance. Compared to these stars, or even to the average star, it is quite small, having only one-eight the mass of our own Sun. In fact, even though it is the star closest to us, we would need a telescope or some other type of optical aid to even see it at all.
But looking at it helps us remember that there are far more stars like Proxima Centauri than there are massive super-giants like Rigel. Even our own Sun, without which life could not exist on Earth is technically classified as a dwarf star, much as Pluto has now been reclassified as a 'dwarf'' planet. But there are advantages to being small; Proxima will still be shining brightly many billions of years after brighter and more spectacular stars are long gone. If there were any planets circling Proxima Centauri, an observer on one of those planets, looking in our direction, might be able to barely see our own star, the Sun as only a dim point of light. Our own Earth would not be visible at all . However, it is worth remembering that if we ever do find kindred beings in the universe, they are more likely to be near a star like Proxima Centauri than some super-giant like Rigel, if only because there are so many more of them. One of the things astronomy does is to remind us that we are just a small part in the larger scheme of things. However, looking at a star like Proxima Centauri helps remind us that, while our part may be small, it is no less important for being so.