The Sun in Taurus, but astrology has nothing to do with it. We reveal the secrets of the constellation

On May 14, the Sun will enter the constellation Taurus. At the same time, it has been in the corresponding zodiac sign since April 21 and should soon leave it. This proves once again how much astronomy differs from astrology. Therefore, we decided to tell you what is interesting about this group of stars from the point of view of real science.

Сonstellation Taurus

1. Which star of the constellation Taurus is the brightest?

The brightest star of the constellation Taurus, Aldebaran, is designated by the Greek letter α (alpha). It is also called the “Eye of Taurus”. It translates from Arabic as “follower” because in the night sky it always moves behind the Pleiades cluster.

Aldebaran is very easy to find: if you connect the three stars of the Orion Belt from left to right and continue this line, it will be the first bright star on the way. And in general, it is extremely difficult not to notice it, because it is one of the brightest stars in the night sky and the brightest in the zodiac constellations.

In fact, Aldebaran is a relatively small red giant located 65 light-years away. It is only 16% heavier than the Sun, but its radius is 45 times that of our sun. Its age is 6.4 billion years. 

2. Which star in Taurus is the closest to us?

The closest object to us in the constellation Taurus is the tiny brown dwarf WISE 0410+1502. The distance to it is 21.4 light years. It is difficult to call it a real star, because with only three times the mass of Jupiter, it definitely cannot support thermonuclear reactions. Its surface temperature is estimated at only 180 °C.

As for the full-fledged stars, the closest of them in the constellation Taurus is Gliese 176. It is separated from us by 31 light years. It is a fairly large red dwarf with a mass of about 49% of the mass of the Sun and a radius of 48% of the solar one. It is interesting because a planet orbits around it, about 9 times heavier than Earth. One year on it lasts only 8.8 days, it is a small hot Neptune.

By the way, 300,000 years ago Aldebaran was even closer to the Solar System, the distance to it was less than 20 light-years. Back then, it was the brightest star in the night sky.

3. What are the Praesepe and Hyades star clusters?

The most amazing objects that can be seen in Taurus with the naked eye are the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters. They are the closest clusters of this type to us. The distance to the first of them is estimated at 150, and to the second — 440 light-years. 

Hyades can be found very close to Aldebaran. They look like a bunch of little sparks around it. In fact, this scattered cluster consists of about 700 luminaries, including the giant star ε Tauri, around which the planet orbits. 

The Pleiades are located in the same direction from Aldebaran as the main part of the Hyades, but much further away from it. They look like a smaller copy of Ursa Minor. Although the Pleiades are also called the “Seven Sisters” by the number of stars that are visible to the naked eye in them, in fact, this cluster includes up to 3,000 luminaries.

4. Where is the Crab Nebula?

Next to the star ζ Tau, you can see a tiny irregular misty spot even with a small telescope.t. This is the famous Crab Nebula. It is the remnant of a supernova observed on Earth in 1054 AD. Then a giant star, 6,500 light-years away from us, died in such a bright explosion that for 23 days it was visible even during the day. 

The remnant of that ancient explosion is the Crab Nebula, which has been expanding since its inception. Now the speed of this process is estimated at 1,500 km/s. After some time, it will slow down, and the nebula will disperse into space.

The pulsar PSR B0531+21 is located in the center of the Crab Nebula. This is the core of a dead star, which as a result of the explosion has contracted to a very compact size and rotates extremely fast, emitting periodic pulses in almost all ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum.

5. What are T Tauri stars?

T Tauri star is so dim that it is impossible to properly examine it not only with the naked eye, but also with a small amateur telescope. However, scientists have been studying it closely for many decades and even named a whole class of space objects in its honor.

The fact is that T Tauri is a very young star of relatively small mass. Thermonuclear reactions are just beginning in it, so it is unstable and often changes its brightness in an unpredictable way. In addition, a very strong “star wind” emanates from it, which “blows out” light elements from its surroundings.

T Tauri stars are interesting because, according to scientists, the Sun in the early stages of its existence could belong to this class. Gas and dust disks are indeed quite common around such objects, which may give rise to planetary systems in the future. Therefore, it is quite possible that astronomers can see our own past in them.

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