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Epsilon Ursae Majoris

Epsilon Ursae Majoris (Latinised from ε Ursae Majoris, abbreviated Epsilon UMa, ε UMa), officially named Alioth,[8] is, despite being designated "ε" (epsilon), the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Major, and at magnitude 1.77 is the thirty-second brightest star in the sky.

ε Ursae Majoris
Epsilon Ursae Majoris is located in 100x100
Epsilon Ursae Majoris
Alioth in Ursa Major (circled).
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Ursa Major
Right ascension 12h 54m 01.74959s[1]
Declination +55° 57′ 35.3627″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 1.77[2]
Spectral type A1III-IVp kB9
U−B color index +0.02[2]
B−V color index -0.02[2]
Variable type α2 CVn
Radial velocity (Rv)-9.3[3] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: +111.91[1] mas/yr
Dec.: -8.24[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)39.51 ± 0.20[1] mas
Distance82.6 ± 0.4 ly
(25.3 ± 0.1 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)–0.2[4]
Mass2.91[5] M
Radius4.2 ± 0.2[6] R
Luminosity108 L
Surface gravity (log g)3.5[4] cgs
Temperature9985[4] K
Metallicity [Fe/H]+0.00[4] dex
Rotational velocity (v sin i)33[7] km/s
Other designations
Alioth, Allioth, Aliath, ε UMa, 77 Ursae Majoris, BD+56°1627, FK5 483, GC 17518, HD 112185, HIP 62956, HR 4905, PPM 33769, SAO 28553.
Database references

It is the star in the tail of the bear closest to its body, and thus the star in the handle of the Big Dipper (or Plough) closest to the bowl. It is also a member of the large and diffuse Ursa Major moving group. Historically, the star was frequently used in celestial navigation in the maritime trade, because it is listed as one of the 57 navigational stars.[1]


Physical characteristicsEdit

Book plate by Sidney Hall depicting Ursa Major's stars

According to Hipparcos, Alioth is 81 light-years (25 parsecs) from the Sun. Its spectral type is A1p; the "p" stands for peculiar, as its spectrum is characteristic of an α2 Canum Venaticorum variable. Alioth, as a representative of this type, may harbor two interacting processes. First, the star's strong magnetic field separating different elements in the star's hydrogen 'fuel'. In addition, a rotation axis at an angle to the magnetic axis may be spinning different bands of magnetically sorted elements into the line of sight between Alioth and the Earth. The intervening elements react differently at different frequencies of light as they whip in and out of view, causing Alioth to have very strange spectral lines that fluctuate over a period of 5.1 days. The kB9 suffix to the spectral type indicates that the calcium K line is present and representative of a B9 spectral type even though the rest of the spectrum indicates A1.

Alioth's rotational and magnetic poles are at almost 90 degrees to one another. Darker (denser) regions of chromium form a band at right angles to the equator.

A recent study[citation needed] suggests Alioth's 5.1-day variation may be due to a substellar object of about 14.7 Jupiter masses in an eccentric orbit (e=0.5) with an average separation of 0.055 astronomical units.

Alioth has a relatively weak magnetic field, 15 times weaker than α Canum Venaticorum, but it is still 100 times stronger than that of the Earth.

Name and etymologyEdit

ε Ursae Majoris (Latinised to Epsilon Ursae Majoris) is the star's Bayer designation.

The traditional name Alioth comes from the Arabic alyat (fat tail of a sheep). In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)[9] to catalog and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN's first bulletin of July 2016[10] included a table of the first two batches of names approved by the WGSN; which included Alioth for this star.

This star was known to the Hindus as Añgiras, one of the Seven Rishis.[11]

In Chinese, 北斗 (Běi Dǒu), meaning Northern Dipper, refers to an asterism consisting of Epsilon Ursae Majoris, Alpha Ursae Majoris, Beta Ursae Majoris, Gamma Ursae Majoris, Delta Ursae Majoris, Zeta Ursae Majoris and Eta Ursae Majoris. Consequently, Epsilon Ursae Majoris itself is known as 北斗五 (Běi Dǒu wu, English: the Fifth Star of Northern Dipper) and 玉衡 (Yù Héng, English: Star of Jade Sighting-Tube).[12]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007), "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 474 (2): 653–664, arXiv:0708.1752, Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, H. L.; et al. (1966). "UBVRIJKL photometry of the bright stars". Communications of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. 4 (99): 99. Bibcode:1966CoLPL...4...99J.
  3. ^ Evans, D. S. (June 20–24, 1966), Batten, Alan Henry; Heard, John Frederick, eds., "The Revision of the General Catalogue of Radial Velocities", Determination of Radial Velocities and their Applications, University of Toronto: International Astronomical Union, 30: 57, Bibcode:1967IAUS...30...57E
  4. ^ a b c d Tektunali, H. G. (June 1981), "The spectrum of the CR star Epsilon Ursae Majoris", Astrophysics and Space Science, 77 (1): 41–58, Bibcode:1981Ap&SS..77...41T, doi:10.1007/BF00648756
  5. ^ Shaya, Ed J.; Olling, Rob P. (January 2011), "Very Wide Binaries and Other Comoving Stellar Companions: A Bayesian Analysis of the Hipparcos Catalogue", The Astrophysical Journal Supplement, 192 (1): 2, arXiv:1007.0425, Bibcode:2011ApJS..192....2S, doi:10.1088/0067-0049/192/1/2
  6. ^ Sokolov, N. A. (March 2008), "Radial velocity study of the chemically peculiar star ɛ Ursae Majoris", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, 385 (1): L1–L4, arXiv:0904.3562, Bibcode:2008MNRAS.385L...1S, doi:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2008.00419.x.
  7. ^ Royer, F.; et al. (October 2002), "Rotational velocities of A-type stars in the northern hemisphere. II. Measurement of v sin i", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 393 (3): 897–911, arXiv:astro-ph/0205255, Bibcode:2002A&A...393..897R, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020943
  8. ^ "IAU Catalog of Star Names". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  9. ^ "IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)". Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Bulletin of the IAU Working Group on Star Names, No. 1" (PDF). Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  11. ^ Allen, R. H. (1963). Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (Reprint ed.). New York: Dover Publications Inc. p. 438. ISBN 0-486-21079-0. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
  12. ^ (in Chinese) AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 6 月 15 日
  1. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.