Date of Original Version
We have observed Proxima Centauri and Barnard's star with the Hubble Space Telescope Fine Guidance Sensor 3. Proxima Cen exhibits small-amplitude, periodic photometric variations. Once several sources of systematic photometric error are corrected, we obtain 2 mmag internal photometric precision. We identify two distinct behavior modes over the past 4 years: higher amplitude, longer period and smaller amplitude, shorter period. Within the errors, one period (P ~ 83 days) is twice the other. Barnard's star shows very weak evidence for periodicity on a timescale of approximately 130 days. If we interpret these periodic phenomena as rotational modulation of starspots, we identify three discrete spots on Proxima Cen and possibly one spot on Barnard's star. We find that the disturbances change significantly on timescales as short as one rotation period.
Beneditct, G. F., McArthur, B., Nelan, E., Story, D., Whipple, A. L., Shelus, P. J., Jeffreys, W. H....Frederick, L. W. Photometry of Proxima Centauri and Barnard's Star Using Hubble Space Telescope Fine Guidance Sensor 3: A Search for Periodic Variations. The Astronomical Journal, 116(1), 429-439. doi: 10.1086/300420.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/300420