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Why some stars burn brighter than others?
The night sky – it shines with the splendor of a thousand stars, but you can only enjoy the magnificent picture to the full when you are away from the bustle of the city. But why some are brighter than others? This requires an understanding of the life cycle of a cosmic body. When a star forms, hydrogen will be the main component of its composition. The larger the object, the more likely it is that a nuclear fusion reaction will occur: hydrogen will form helium.
The hotter the star’s core, the more its mass increases… The most massive stars don’t live very long: The hydrogen fuel in the core runs out very quickly. The object then begins burning heavy elements, gradually expanding to become a giant. From then on, the brightness of the celestial body increases significantly.
Visible magnitude (m) is the index of brightness of the stars. This is a measure of the brightness of a stellar body from the perspective of an Earth observer. The smaller the number, the brighter the object.
An overview of the brightest stars in the sky
|Rating of the brightest stars in the sky||15||Antares||0.96 (perem)|
Visible magnitude: 0.96 (rev)
Brightest star in Scorpio and one of the Red Giants of the Milky Way. And Antares is visible red in the sky. Its name is Anti-Ares, which means the antipode of Mars. The bright, unusual light of this star was of keen interest to ancient peoples: the Chinese considered it one of the three most influential, the Persians ranked it among the royal.
Antares is 600 light years from our planet. Compared to the Sun, the megagiant is 800 times larger than the Sun, 400 times larger in circumference, and 65,000 times brighter. At the same time, the mass of Antares exceeds the mass of the Sun by only 17 times. Such a small index of mass for a huge size indicates the low density of the substance of which the star is formed. You can enjoy the best view of the object (especially against the background of the sun) in May. The companion star of Antares was discovered in 1813, but is difficult to see because of the brightness of its companion, although it is considered large (5th magnitude) and is 170 times brighter than the Sun.
Visible magnitude: 0.85 (perem)
When you look at Aldebaran from Earth, it seems to be united with the star cluster Hyades (represented by 4 stars that are united by gravity). Together they resemble the English letter V, but their integrity is only apparent: Aldebaran is a solitary. But not quite: it is surrounded by a red dwarf, a modest companion, so faint that it is impossible to notice it without special equipment. The closest “neighbors” (not counting the satellite) are 20 light years away from Aldebaran.
The star got its name from the Arabs, with “aldebaran” meaning “follower. But this giant has other names: the Romans called it Palilius, the Dreki called it Lamparus. Aldebaran is sometimes called “Bullseye.”. The star is considered a normal giant, glowing orange. 65 light years from our planet. The giant is 44 times bigger than our sun and 150 times more powerful. According to scientists, Aldebaran has already burned all the hydrogen on its surface and is now destroying helium: the star has greatly increased in size. You can see it in the sky during the winter months.
Visible magnitude: 0,77
“Polaris,” the brightest in the constellation of the Southern Cross and one of the few stars in the night sky whose name is not associated with mythology. It was formed from the name of the constellation itself (in Latin it sounds exactly like “crux”), Alpha Crux means A-Crux. This century’s observations show that Acrux is not just a star, but a constellation of 3 celestial bodies.
There is still a debate in the scientific community about whether to include the third star (Alpha 3) in the Akrux system. Such doubts arose for two reasons: it is too remote and too bright for its class. The mass of the most important star in the Akrux system is 14 times the mass of the Sun, the second is 10 times the mass of the. Research suggests that both objects could become supernovae in the future as a result of an explosion and then turn into a massive white dwarf.
Visible magnitude: 0.77
With the creation of a high-resolution telescope, it is now possible to measure a star whose motion is so fast that its shape is elongated along the equator. Altair is a white, hot, nonspherical star. Its first image was not obtained until 2007. Altair is one of the closest stars to our planet, creating an entire line known as the Eagle Family. The distance from Earth to Altair is only 16.8 light years. Altair is one of the vertices of the “summer-autumn triangle” and is observed during the summer-autumn period in the Northern Hemisphere.
To understand just how fast Altair is, it is enough to compare it to the speed of the Sun: if the Sun makes a complete circle in 25.05 days, Altair needs only 8.9 hours. In the 2000s, studies were conducted that suggested: due to the high speed of rotation, the gravity and temperature at the equator is lower. Also, the star’s equator is less bright than the rest of the star: this is the so-called gravitational darkening.
Visible magnitude: 0.61 (ppm)
Hadar is a bright blue giant. It is depicted on the Australian flag. It is the second brightest object in the Centauri constellation, and certainly one of the brightest stars in the night sky. The distance from Hadar to Earth is quite impressive at 530 light years. Hadar or Hadar-A are 2 stellar twins distant from each other by 3 astronomical units (150 million. km). Cosmic objects are considered to be ancient: they are at least 12 million years old. 150 million years. Both stars have impressive masses: it varies according to different sources from 11 to 133 solar masses.
The star can only be seen in the night sky of the Southern Hemisphere. The latest evidence suggests that Hadar-A is expanding. Some astronomers believe it will cause twins to become supergiants and, after exploding, supernovae.
Visible magnitude: 0.5 (per cent)
According to some sources, this supermassive giant could at any moment emit its last breath, creating a grand superburst and leaving behind a Crab Nebula with an invisible star or black hole at its center. The problem is that it is not possible to predict this event even remotely, because astronomy is a very young science, and Betelgeuse is a mysterious and poorly studied star. Which is not surprising, since it is unimaginably far from our planet: according to some data, 420-650 light-years away, according to others, up to 1300 light-years.
Estimates of the magnitude and mass of this supergiant are rather averaged: the mass of Betelgeuse is about 17 solar and its radius is 950-1200 solar radii, respectively. We know for sure that the star is not in any close cluster and is not a double cluster…. Will there be an explosion?? Scientists don’t know this for sure: all they know for sure is that the star is in its final growth cycle, when the amount of carbon and heavy elements is so low that sustaining stable thermonuclear processes is no longer possible.
Visible magnitude: 0.46
Ahernar is a bright star with an incredible speed of rotation around its axis, about 260-310 kilometers per second. This is a representative of the constellation Eridanus and its brightest object. Due to the high rotational velocity, Ahernar is strongly compressed near the poles, making its shape not the traditional spherical, but ellipsoidal. The tremendous rotational velocity also influences the temperature of the space body: it reaches about 20000 K at the poles and about 10000 K at the equator.
Ahernar has a fairly large mass of about 8 solar. Distance from the star to our planet – 139 light years. This bright space object can be seen only at southern latitudes. You can see Ahernar in all its glory in November, and to the south of 33
From Arabic, the star’s name translates as “the end of the river”. The fact is that Ahernar used to be thought to be the last star in the constellation Eridanus (today it is known to be Acamar).
Interesting fact. The star’s name is often found in fantasy books: at least six mentions of Ahernar are known in fantasy novels.
Visible magnitude: 0.38
This is Alpha of the constellation Lesser Dog. It’s no exaggeration to say that Procyon is a constellation. Presented by 2 stars that can be observed without optics. The second is Gomeiza. The origin of the name of the luminary is quite unusual and was formed on the basis of long observation. Literally translated from the Greek as “before the dog”. In literary translation, another name is found – “herald of the dog”. And all because Procyon appears in the sky 40 minutes before the rising Sirius.
The celestial object is not very far from us: only 11.41 light-years away. It has a radius of 1.9 solar and a brightness 8 times that of the Sun. Procyon is considered a subgiant, and by the brightness of its glow, we can conclude that the helium fusion in its depths has already stopped and the expansion of the object has begun. The star will gradually become a red giant.
The constellation Lesser Dog rises low above the horizon because it is equatorial. To see it, and at the same time the star, you need to turn to the south, look for Orion’s belt and from the lower luminary to draw a straight line to the east. In its constellation, Procyon is the brightest, so it is not difficult to find it. The best period for observation is winter.
Visible magnitude: 0.12
The star is considered one of the brightest not only in the constellation of Orion: within the visible Galaxy, Rigel has almost no competitors. The power of its glow is simply unimaginable: the star is 85 000 times brighter than the Sun. The distance to the object is as colossal as its luminosity – 773 light years. Orion’s Rigel is so powerful that it illuminates a huge space around itself: it makes the dust clouds of its constellation visible.
The giant is not alone. It is part of a system consisting of 3 stars, 2 of which are telescopic double stars, united by gravitational force. The blue and white giant is 68 times larger than our sun. Riegel is notable for its variable brightness: processes occur on its surface, causing the pulsation of the luminary.
Interesting fact. The power of Rigel’s luminosity is so great that if it were in place of the Sun, not a trace of the planets in our system would remain: any object at a distance of up to 150 million years would be visible only to the sun. would evaporate instantly into a torrent of eerie stellar wind.
Visible magnitude 0.08
It is considered to be one of the brightest in the sky and deservedly occupies the 6th place. Capella exceeds some giants like Aldebaran and Betelgeuse in the strength of the light that emanates from it. It is 77 times brighter than the sun. Recent indicators suggest that Capella is at the end of his life’s journey, although by human standards it will be a very, very long time.
Capella is considered a double celestial body: it is composed of two giants of equal size (Capella Aa and Capella Ab). That’s why it is so well visible even without special optics. We know that more than 240,000 years ago, Capella was considered to be the brightest star in the Earth’s sky; it reached the closest point to our planet at the time. Today, however, it is one-third farther away, so it is inferior in brightness to several other stars.
Capella Aa is a red giant, but Capella Ab has not yet passed its evolutionary way: the thermonuclear processes inside it are already completed, but the helium has not yet started to burn. By the way, despite the different degree of development, both objects are the same age – they are about 5.25 billion. years.
Capella is the brightest and largest star in the constellation of Ascendant. The ancient Greeks identified with it the Athenian king Erichthonius, leading the horse-drawn. Legend has it that it invented the first chariot. On the shoulder of the king sits the celestial goat – Capella. In mythology, this goat fed its milk to little Zeus, who was hiding on Crete from his father Cronus. According to one legend, while playing with a goat, the god accidentally broke off its horn and riches spilled from it. It was a cornucopia of abundance.
Visible magnitude: 0.03
In the summer and autumn period, residents of the Northern Hemisphere can observe the Great Summer Triangle. Vega is its top point. Considered to be the brightest in the constellation Lyra. The distance from it to the Sun is just over 25 light-years. Vega played an important role in the formation of astrophysics. It was the point of reference in the photometric system that was developed to determine the color and luminosity of celestial bodies.
Vega was the first photographed star after the Sun, and in the 12th century BC.je. it was pointing to the North Pole, i.e. it was Polar and will be such again in 12000 years. Vega’s energy source is thought to be the process of thermonuclear fusion of helium from hydrogen. Its brightness is 37 times that of the Sun, but its mass is only 2 times that of the Sun. Because of its impressive mass, Vega will last as a white giant for about 1 billion years. years (only 1/10th of the Sun’s life), then it will turn into a red giant, and later, into a white dwarf. Now experts are studying the possibility of the presence of exoplanets. So far, only a dust disk has been detected around Vega.
Visible magnitude: -0.05 (per cent)
Chief in the constellation of Volopas and one of the brightest in the Earth’s sky. In terms of luminosity, Arcturus is 110 times more powerful than the Sun. Impressive parameters of a space body: though its mass is practically equal to the Sun, its radius exceeds solar one in 27 times. The object is very light, due to its low heavy metal content.
But brightness is not the main feature of Arcturus. It is capable of changing its position in space, that is, it has its own motion. Of all the stars observed in the sky, Arcturus is second only to Alpha Centauri in terms of the speed of its own motion. Watching the space object for a long time, astronomers noticed that it does not move alone: it “accompanies” a whole group of smaller celestial bodies and their number exceeds 50. The size of these stars and the speed of their own motion are about the same, so it was decided to combine the group into an asterism, the Arcturus Flux.
Arcturus is considered an old star with little heavy metal in its composition. This suggests an extragalactic origin of the luminary, as there are no stars with a similar composition in the Milky Way. The fact that Arcturus is a “guest” in our galaxy is also indicated by the age and type of the object: it is an orange giant of 7.1 billion. years.
Visible magnitude: -0.27
The star system closest to our solar system is bright, unusual, and well-studied. Alpha Centauri is a triple star made up of Centauri A, Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri. It’s two billion years older than the Sun. Six billion years old. years. It is impossible to distinguish the first two stars with the naked eye: they form a real tandem – incredibly powerful in its brightness. The light emitted by Centauri A and Centauri B reaches the Earth in 4.3 years. The third star, on the other hand, is a modest red dwarf.
Despite the proximity, it is currently impossible to reach Alpha Centauri: the journey in a modern spacecraft will take more than 1 million. years. Observe the beautiful spectacle of brightly shining Alpha Centauri can only inhabitants of the southern hemisphere. The star is important for Earth-based navigation: by drawing a line from Centauri B to the line from the Southern Cross you can get a pointer to the pole.
The bright star was recorded in the star atlas by the ancient Greeks as far back as the 4th century BC.and only split into two objects in 1689. Proxima was discovered in 1915. Astronomers are devoting a lot of time and effort to studying the Alpha Centauri system in hopes of discovering planets suitable for habitation. In 2012, it was announced that a planet slightly larger than Earth had been discovered orbiting its star at a reasonable speed. Except that it is too hot. Its position is comparable to Mercury in our system.
Visible magnitude: -0.72
Incredibly bright space object, which has a luminosity 15000 times more powerful than the sun’s. The yellowish supergiant is 310 light years from Earth. But even at this distance, Canopus is perfectly visible on Earth. This unusual star has played a major role in history, navigation and art for many years. For sailors, Canopus was the real guide star, often called the “South Polar Star”, for pointing in the direction of the South Pole.
Canopus is also used in astrocorrection: its position is used as a reference point for launching missiles. Although the star is considered one of the brightest stars in the sky, it is not visible in every spot on Earth; it only shines in the southern hemisphere. And in some countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, the cosmic body is always above the horizon line.
Canopus was discovered several millennia ago by Arab stargazers. Most mentions of the bright star can be found in Indian and Egyptian sources. Canopus takes its name from the legendary navigator who stormed Troy. Astronomers call the star Alpha Keel, because it is the highest and brightest star in the constellation of Keel.
Apparent magnitude: -1.46
The brightest star in the Earth’s firmament, shining in the constellation of the Great Hound and visible in the Northern Hemisphere (especially during winter). The star is considered the closest to our planet: it is located 8.6 light years from the sun. Sirius is the easiest object for non-professional astronomers: its photo is very easy to obtain. And, at the same time, the brightness of Sirius makes it difficult to photograph: processing the resulting data requires considerable preparation.
When observing Sirius, astronomers noticed that the star’s trajectory is a wave-like curve. And the oscillations were noticeable even for a short period of time, which is very unusual, since the star is located at a colossal distance from us. Scientists have suggested that a hidden object orbiting Sirius with a period of 50 years is responsible for such a trajectory. And, after nearly 20 years, a tiny star has finally been discovered – the first white dwarf – one of the most massive of any discovered to date.