Maia //, 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.
Epoch J2000 Equinox J2000
|Right ascension||03h 45m 49.6067s|
|Declination||24° 22′ 03.895″|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||3.871|
|U−B color index||-0.40|
|B−V color index||-0.07|
|Radial velocity (Rv)||7.5 km/s|
|Proper motion (μ)|| RA: 21.09 mas/yr |
Dec.: -45.03 mas/yr
|Parallax (π)||8.2 ± 1.03 mas|
|Distance||approx. 400 ly |
(approx. 120 pc)
|Absolute magnitude (MV)||-1.69|
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. 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.
Maia is surrounded by the Maia Nebula (also known as NGC 1432), one of the brightest patches of nebulosity within the Pleiades star cluster.
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) to catalog and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN's first bulletin of July 2016 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.
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.
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- Hesiod, Works and Days 619ff.
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