News Release Archive:

News Release 478 of 1044

January 9, 2006 09:20 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-02

There's More to the North Star Than Meets the Eye


Image: Artist's Concept of Polaris System

Artist's Concept of Polaris SystemSTScI-PRC2006-02b Artist's Concept

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This is a view from within the Polaris triple star system. The North Star, Polaris A is a bright supergiant variable star.

Just above Polaris is a small companion, Polaris Ab, which is 2 billion miles from Polaris. Much farther away, near the top of the illustration, is the wide companion Polaris B. Polaris B is located approximately 240 billion miles from Polaris A. The two companion stars are the same temperature as Polaris A, but are dwarf stars.

The wide companion star is visible in small telescopes. It was first noticed by William Herschel in 1780. The close companion, Polaris Ab was known to exist from measurements of a wobble in Polaris, caused by the gravitational tug of its companion, but has only been seen directly now using Hubble.

Object Names: Polaris, Alpha Ursae Minoris, North Star

Image Type: Artwork

Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI)


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