Sigma Octantis

Sigma Octantis (also written as σ Octantis; abbreviated as Sigma Oct or σ Oct), officially named Polaris Australis (/pˈlɛərɪs ɔːˈstrlɪs/),[10] is the current "South Star" (as opposed to the North Star). Its apparent position near the southern celestial pole makes it the pole star of the Southern Hemisphere. This is a solitary[11] star in the southern circumpolar constellation of Octans. Located approximately 294 light-years from Earth, it is classified as a giant star with a spectral type of F0 III.[3] Sigma Octantis is a Delta Scuti variable, with its average magnitude of 5.47[2] varying by about 0.03 magnitudes every 2.33 hours.[4]

Sigma Octantis
Octans IAU.svg
Red circle.svg
Location of σ Octantis (circled)
Observation data
Epoch J2000.0      Equinox J2000.0 (ICRS)
Constellation Octans
Right ascension 21h 08m 46.86357s[1]
Declination −88° 57′ 23.3983″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 5.47[2]
Spectral type F0 III[3]
U−B color index +0.13[2]
B−V color index +0.26[2]
Variable type δ Sct[4]
Radial velocity (Rv)+11.9[5] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: +26.323[1] mas/yr
Dec.: +4.721[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)11.1005 ± 0.0616 mas[1]
Distance294 ± 2 ly
(90.1 ± 0.5 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)0.86±0.09[6]
Mass1.59[7] M
Radius4.32[8] R
Luminosity43[8] L
Surface gravity (log g)3.71[7] cgs
Temperature7,415±252[7] K
Rotational velocity (v sin i)145[4] km/s
Age912[7] Myr
Other designations
Polaris Australis, σ Oct, CPD−89°47, FK5 923, HD 177482, HIP 104382, HR 7228, SAO 258857[9]
Database references


σ Octantis (Latinised to Sigma Octantis) is the star's Bayer designation.

As the southern hemisphere's pole star it bore the name Polaris Australis, first applied in the 1700s.[12] In 2016, the IAU organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)[13] to catalog and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN approved the name Polaris Australis for this star on 5 September 2017 and it is now so included in the List of IAU-approved Star Names.[10] It is the southernmost named star.

Southern pole starEdit

Sigma Octantis is the current southern pole star, whose counterpart is Polaris, the current North Star. To an observer in the southern hemisphere, Sigma Octantis appears almost motionless and all the other stars in the Southern sky appear to rotate around it. It is part of a small "half hexagon" shape. It is slightly more than a degree away from the true south pole, and the south celestial pole is moving away from it due to precession of the equinoxes.

The south celestial pole. The trapezoidal asterism at the centre includes Sigma Octantis.

At magnitude +5.42, Sigma Octantis is barely visible to the naked eye, making it unusable for navigation, especially by comparison with the much brighter and more easily visible Polaris.[14] Because of this, the constellation Crux is often preferred for determining the position of the South Celestial Pole.[15] Once Sigma Octantis' approximate position has been determined, either by the major stars in Octans or using the Southern Cross (Crux) method, it can be positively verified using an asterism: Sigma, Chi, Tau, and Upsilon Octantis are all stars of around magnitude 5.6, and form the distinctive shape of a trapezoid.

In astrometricsEdit

Sigma Octantis was used as a reference to measure the magnitudes of stars in the southern hemisphere for the 1908 Revised Harvard Photometry catalogue. The Pole Star and Lambda Ursae Minoris were used for the northern hemisphere. It was then noted that "Neither of these stars appears to vary perceptibly" but that, due to the procedures used "if they did, the variation would have no effect on the final measures."[16]

In cultureEdit

Sigma Octantis is the dimmest star to be represented on a national flag. It appears on the flag of Brazil, symbolising the Brazilian Federal District.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Brown, A. G. A.; et al. (Gaia collaboration) (2021). "Gaia Early Data Release 3: Summary of the contents and survey properties". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 649: A1. arXiv:2012.01533. Bibcode:2021A&A...649A...1G. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202039657. S2CID 227254300. Gaia EDR3 record for this source at VizieR.
  2. ^ a b c d 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. ^ a b Malaroda, S. (August 1975), "Study of the F-type stars. I. MK spectral types", Astronomical Journal, 80: 637–641, Bibcode:1975AJ.....80..637M, doi:10.1086/111786.
  4. ^ a b c Rodríguez, E.; et al. (June 2000), "A revised catalogue of δ Sct stars", Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement, 144 (3): 469–474, Bibcode:2000A&AS..144..469R, doi:10.1051/aas:2000221.
  5. ^ Wilson, Ralph Elmer (1953), "General catalogue of stellar radial velocities", Washington, Carnegie Institution of Washington: 0, Bibcode:1953GCRV..C......0W.
  6. ^ Antonello, E.; Mantegazza, L. (November 1997), "Luminosity and related parameters of δ Scuti stars from HIPPARCOS parallaxes. General properties of luminosity", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 327: 240–244, Bibcode:1997A&A...327..240A.
  7. ^ a b c d David, Trevor J.; Hillenbrand, Lynne A. (2015), "The Ages of Early-Type Stars: Strömgren Photometric Methods Calibrated, Validated, Tested, and Applied to Hosts and Prospective Hosts of Directly Imaged Exoplanets", The Astrophysical Journal, 804 (2): 146, arXiv:1501.03154, Bibcode:2015ApJ...804..146D, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/804/2/146, S2CID 33401607.
  8. ^ a b Brown, A. G. A.; et al. (Gaia collaboration) (August 2018). "Gaia Data Release 2: Summary of the contents and survey properties". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 616. A1. arXiv:1804.09365. Bibcode:2018A&A...616A...1G. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201833051. Gaia DR2 record for this source at VizieR.
  9. ^ "sig Oct". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2017-08-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  10. ^ a b "Naming Stars". Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  11. ^ Eggleton, P. P.; Tokovinin, A. A. (September 2008), "A catalogue of multiplicity among bright stellar systems", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 389 (2): 869–879, arXiv:0806.2878, Bibcode:2008MNRAS.389..869E, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13596.x, S2CID 14878976.
  12. ^ Kaler, James B. (2006), The Hundred Greatest Stars, Springer Science & Business Media, p. 171, ISBN 0387216251.
  13. ^ "IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)". Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Sigma Octantis". Jumk.De. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Finding South". CSIRO. 26 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  16. ^ Pickering, Edward Charles (1908). "Revised Harvard Photometry". Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College. 50: 2. Bibcode:1908AnHar..50....1P.
  17. ^ "Astronomy of the Brazilian Flag". FOTW Flags Of The World website.