MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, vol.374, no.4, pp.1264-1270, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SCI)
The alpha Centauri (alpha Cen) binary system is a well-known stellar system with very accurate observational constraints on the structure of its component stars. In addition to the classical non-seismic constraints, there are also seismic constraints for the interior models of alpha Cen A and B. These two types of constraint give very different values for the age of the system. While we obtain 8.9 Gyr for the age of the system from the non-seismic constraints, the seismic constraints imply that the age is about 5.6-5.9 Gyr. There may be observational or theoretical reasons for this discrepancy, which can be found by careful consideration of similar stars. The alpha Cen binary system, with its solar-type components, is also suitable for testing the stellar mass dependence of the mixing-length parameter for convection derived from the binaries of Hyades. The values of the mixing-length parameter for alpha Cen A and B are 2.10 and 1.90 for the non-seismic constraints. If we prioritize the seismic constraints, we obtain 1.64 and 1.91 for alpha Cen A and B, respectively. By taking into account these two contrasting cases for stellar mass dependence of the mixing-length parameter, we derive two expressions for its time dependence, which are also compatible with the mass dependence of the mixing-length parameter derived from the Hyades stars. For assessment, these expressions should be tested in other stellar systems and clusters.