Open main menu

Coordinates: Sky map 03h 45m 49.607s, +24° 22′ 03.895″

Image of the Pleiades star cluster
Red circle.svg
Maia in the Pleiades cluster (circled)
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Taurus
Right ascension  03h 45m 49.6067s[1]
Declination 24° 22′ 03.895″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 3.871[1]
Spectral type B8III[1]
U−B color index -0.40
B−V color index -0.07[2]
Variable type Suspected
Radial velocity (Rv)7.5[1] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: 21.09[1] mas/yr
Dec.: -45.03[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)8.2 ± 1.03[3] mas
Distanceapprox. 400 ly
(approx. 120 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)-1.69
Mass5+[4] M
Radius6.04[4] R
Luminosity850[4] L
Temperature12,600[4] K
Metallicity1.10 Fe/H[5]
Rotation33 km/s[6]
Other designations
Maia, 20 Tauri, HR 1149, BD+23°516, HD 23408, HIP 17573, SAO 76155, GC 4500, NSV 01279, WDS J03458+2422
Database references

Maia /ˈmə/,[7] designated 20 Tauri (abbreviated 20 Tau), is a star in the constellation of Taurus. It is the fourth-brightest star in the Pleiades open star cluster (M45), after Alcyone, Atlas and Electra, in that order. Maia is a blue giant of spectral type B8 III, and a mercury-manganese star.

Maia's visual magnitude is 3.871, requiring darker skies to be seen. Its total bolometric luminosity is 660 times solar, mostly in the ultraviolet, thus suggesting a radius that is 5.5 times that of the Sun and a mass that is slightly more than 4 times solar.[4] It was thought to be a variable star by astronomer Otto Struve. A class of stars known as Maia variables was proposed, which included Gamma Ursae Minoris, but Maia and some others in the class have since been found to be stable.[4]

Maia is surrounded by the Maia Nebula (also known as NGC 1432), one of the brightest patches of nebulosity within the Pleiades star cluster.[8]


20 Tauri is the star's Flamsteed designation. The name Maia originates with the Greek: Μαῖα and Latin: Maia. She is one of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology—stars which are also included in the Pleiades star cluster (see map).

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 Maia for this star. It is now so entered in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.[11]


God council in Olympus: Hermes with his mother Maia. Detail of the side B of an Attic red-figure belly-amphora, ca. 500 BC.

Maia was the oldest of seven beautiful sisters known as the Pleiades. She was impregnated by Zeus, thereby conceiving Hermes, the messenger god. As Maia and the Pleiades are visible in the winter night sky along with the constellation Orion, the Greek myths tell of Maia and her sisters being pursued by the giant huntsman, and turned into doves to preserve their safety.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "* 20 Tau". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  2. ^ Johnson, H. L.; Iriarte, B.; Mitchell, R. I.; Wisniewski, W. Z. (1966). "UBVRIJKL photometry of the bright stars". Communications of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. SIMBAD. 4: 99. Bibcode:1966CoLPL...4...99J.
  3. ^ Perryman, M. A. C.; et al. (1997), "The Hipparcos Catalogue", Astronomy & Astrophysics, 323: L49–L52, Bibcode:1997A&A...323L..49P
  4. ^ a b c d e f Professor James B. (Jim) Kaler. "MAIA (20 Tauri)". University of Illinois. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  5. ^ Heacox, W. D. (1979). "Chemical abundances in Hg-Mn stars". Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 41: 675–688. Bibcode:1979ApJS...41..675H. doi:10.1086/190637.
  6. ^ Royer, F.; Grenier, S.; Baylac, M.-O.; Gómez, A. E.; Zorec, J. (2002). "Rotational velocities of A-type stars in the northern hemisphere. II. Measurement of v sin i in the northern hemisphere". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 393 (3): 897–911. arXiv:astro-ph/0205255. Bibcode:2002A&A...393..897R. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020943.
  7. ^ Kunitzsch, Paul; Smart, Tim (2006). A Dictionary of Modern star Names: A Short Guide to 254 Star Names and Their Derivations (2nd rev. ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Pub. ISBN 978-1-931559-44-7.
  8. ^ "SEDS Students for the Exploration and Development of Space". NGC 1432. Retrieved 2010-06-11.[permanent dead link]
  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. ^ "IAU Catalog of Star Names". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  12. ^ Hesiod, Works and Days 619ff.

External linksEdit