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Pollux (star)

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Pollux (star)


The position of Pollux within the constellation of Gemini.
Observation data
Epoch J2000.0      Equinox J2000.0
Constellation Gemini
Right ascension 07h 45m 18.94987s[1]
Declination +28° 01′ 34.3160″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 1.14[2]
Spectral type K0 III[3]
U−B color index +0.86[2]
B−V color index +1.00[2]
Variable type Suspected
Radial velocity (Rv) +3.23[4] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: –626.55[1] mas/yr
Dec.: –45.80[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π) 96.54 ± 0.27[1] mas
Distance 33.78 ± 0.09 ly
(10.36 ± 0.03 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV) +1.08±0.02[5]
Mass 2.04±0.3[6] M
Radius 8.8±0.1[7] R
Luminosity 43[8] L
Surface gravity (log g) 2.685±0.09[7] cgs
Temperature 4666±95[7] K
Metallicity [Fe/H] –0.07 to +0.19[7] dex
Rotation 558 days[9]
Rotational velocity (v sin i) 2.8[10] km/s
Age 724[11] Myr
Other designations
Beta Geminorum, 78 Geminorum, BD+28°1463, GCTP 1826.00, Gliese 286, HD 62509, HIP 37826, HR 2990, LFT 548, LHS 1945, LTT 12065, SAO 79666.[12]
Database references

Pollux (β Gem, β Geminorum, Beta Geminorum) is a star in the northern constellation of Gemini. It is an evolved giant star with an orange hue. At an apparent visual magnitude of 1.1,[13] Pollux is the brightest star in the constellation; brighter even than its neighbor Castor (Alpha Geminorum). Parallax measurements made with the Hipparcos astrometry satellite[14][15] place it at a distance of about 33.78 light-years (10.36 parsecs) from Earth.[1] Since 1943, the spectrum of this star has served as one of the stable anchor points by which other stars are classified.[16] In 2006, Pollux was confirmed to have an extrasolar planet orbiting it.[7]


  • Properties 1
  • In various cultures 2
  • Planetary system 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


This star is larger than the Sun, with about two times its mass and almost nine times its radius.[7] Once an A-type main sequence star,[6] Pollux has exhausted the hydrogen at its core and evolved into a giant star with a stellar classification of K0 III.[3] The effective temperature of this star's outer envelope is about 4666 K,[7] which lies in the range that produces the characteristic orange hue of K-type stars.[17] Pollux has a projected rotational velocity of 2.8 km·s−1.[10] The abundance of elements other than hydrogen and helium, what astronomers term the star's metallicity, is somewhat uncertain, with estimates ranging from 85% to 155% of the Sun's abundance.[7][18]

Evidence for a low level of magnetic activity came from the detection of weak X-ray emission using the ROSAT orbiting telescope. The X-ray emission from this star is about 1027 erg s−1, which is roughly the same as the X-ray emission from the Sun. A magnetic field with a strength below 1 Gauss has since been confirmed on the surface of Pollux; one of the weakest fields ever detected on a star. The presence of this field suggests that Pollux was once an Ap star with a much stronger magnetic field.[6]

In various cultures

The name Pollux refers specifically to Castor and Pollux, the sons of Leda.[19] The star also bears Arabic name Al-Ras al-Tau'am al-Mu'akhar,(الرأس التؤام المؤخر), literally, 'The Head of the Second Twin.' Castor and Pollux together correspond to the Nakshatra Punarvasu in Hindu astronomy.

Castor and Pollux are the two "heavenly twin" stars giving the constellation Gemini (Latin, 'the twins') its name. The stars, however, are quite different in detail. Castor is a complex sextuple system of hot, bluish-white A-type stars and dim red dwarfs, while Pollux is a single, cooler yellow-orange giant. In Percy Shelley's 1818 poem Homer's Hymn To Castor And Pollux, the star is referred to as "..mild Pollux, void of blame."[20]

In the catalogue of stars in the Calendarium of Al Achsasi Al Mouakket, this star was designated Muekher al Dzira, which was translated into Latin as Posterior Brachii, meaning the end in the paw.[21]

In Chinese, 北河 (Běi Hé), meaning North River, refers to an asterism consisting of Pollux, ρ Geminorum and Castor.[22] Consequently, Pollux itself is known as 北河三 (Běi Hé sān, English: the Third Star of North River.)[23]

Planetary system

An extrasolar planet was suspected orbiting Pollux since 1993,[24] from measured radial velocity oscillations. The existence of the planet, Pollux b, was confirmed and announced on June 16, 2006. Pollux b is calculated to have a mass at least 2.3 times that of Jupiter. It is orbiting Pollux with a period of about 590 days.[7]

The Pollux planetary system[7]
(in order from star)
Mass Semimajor axis
Orbital period
Eccentricity Inclination Radius
b > 2.30±0.45 MJ 1.64±0.27 589.64±0.81 0.02±0.03

The planet is one of those selected by the International Astronomical Union as part of their public process for giving proper names to exoplanets.[25][26] The process involves public nomination and voting for the new name, and the IAU plans to announce the new name in mid-November 2015.[27]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007), "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction", Astronomy and Astrophysics 474 (2): 653–664,  
  2. ^ a b c Ducati, J. R. (2002). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: Catalogue of Stellar Photometry in Johnson's 11-color system". CDS/ADC Collection of Electronic Catalogues 2237: 0.  
  3. ^ a b Morgan, W. W.; Keenan, P. C. (1973), "Spectral Classification", Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 11: 29,  
  4. ^ Famaey, B.; et al. (January 2005), "Local kinematics of K and M giants from CORAVEL/Hipparcos/Tycho-2 data. Revisiting the concept of superclusters", Astronomy and Astrophysics 430 (1): 165–186,  
  5. ^ Carney, Bruce W.; et al. (March 2008), "Rotation and Macroturbulence in Metal-Poor Field Red Giant and Red Horizontal Branch Stars", The Astronomical Journal 135 (3): 892–906,  
  6. ^ a b c Aurière, M.; et al. (September 2009), "Discovery of a weak magnetic field in the photosphere of the single giant Pollux", Astronomy and Astrophysics 504 (1): 231–237,  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hatzes, A. P.; et al. (2006), "Confirmation of the planet hypothesis for the long-period radial velocity variations of β Geminorum",  
  8. ^ Mallik, Sushma V. (December 1999), "Lithium abundance and mass", Astronomy and Astrophysics 352: 495–507,  
  9. ^ Koncewicz, R.; Jordan, C. (January 2007), "OI line emission in cool stars: calculations using partial redistribution", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 374 (1): 220–231,  
  10. ^ a b Massarotti, Alessandro; et al. (January 2008), "Rotational and Radial Velocities for a Sample of 761 HIPPARCOS Giants and the Role of Binarity", The Astronomical Journal 135 (1): 209–231,  
  11. ^ Takeda, Yoichi; Sato, Bun'ei; Murata, Daisuke (August 2008), "Stellar parameters and elemental abundances of late-G giants", Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan 60 (4): 781–802,  
  12. ^ "POLLUX -- Variable Star", SIMBAD (Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg), retrieved 2012-01-14 
  13. ^ Lee, T. A. (October 1970), "Photometry of high-luminosity M-type stars", Astrophysical Journal 162: 217,  
  14. ^ Perryman, M. A. C.; et al. (July 1997), "The Hipparcos Catalogue", Astronomy and Astrophysics 323: L49–L52,  
  15. ^ Perryman, Michael (2010), The Making of History's Greatest Star Map, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag,  
  16. ^ Garrison, R. F. (December 1993), "Anchor Points for the MK System of Spectral Classification", Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society 25: 1319,  
  17. ^ "The Colour of Stars", Australia Telescope, Outreach and Education (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), December 21, 2004, retrieved 2012-01-16 
  18. ^ The abundance is determined by taking the value of [Fe/H] in the table to the power of 10. Hence, 10−0.07 = 0.85 while 10+0.19 = 1.55.
  19. ^ "Pollux". STARS.  
  20. ^
  21. ^ Knobel, E. B. (June 1895). "Al Achsasi Al Mouakket, on a catalogue of stars in the Calendarium of Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket".  
  22. ^ (Chinese) 中國星座神話, written by 陳久金. Published by 台灣書房出版有限公司, 2005, ISBN 978-986-7332-25-7.
  23. ^ (Chinese) 香港太空館 - 研究資源 - 亮星中英對照表, Hong Kong Space Museum. Accessed on line November 23, 2010.
  24. ^ A. P. Hatzes; et al. (1993). "Long-period radial velocity variations in three K giants".  
  25. ^ NameExoWorlds: An IAU Worldwide Contest to Name Exoplanets and their Host Stars. 9 July 2014
  26. ^ NameExoWorlds.
  27. ^ NameExoWorlds.

External links

  • "Notes for star HD 62509". The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  • "Pollux". SolStation. Retrieved 2005-11-21. 
  • Sabine Reffert; et al. (2006-07-07). "Precise Radial Velocities of Giant Stars II. Pollux and its Planetary Companion". Astrophys.J.,  

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