Algol is one of the brightest stars in the night sky and also in the constellation of Perseus. It gets its name from the Arabic al-ghul meaning (ogre) and is the same inspiration for the enemy of Bruce Wayne - Batman Ra`s Al-ghul (Head of the Ogre). The direct translation of the Arabic name to English is Demon Star. It located where one of Medusa`s eyes would have located if you drew the character Perseus over the star map.
It is one of the first Variable Stars to have been observed. It got its name because the star winked at the observer. In addition to it being a variable star, it is a Multiple Star System, two stars are close together whereas the third is a little way out. The two stars that are close to one another, one eclipses the other which causes the star to appear to wink. The winking is as regular as clockwork, 68 hours, 48 minutes and 59.9 seconds, or 2.86736 days. In the right conditions you can see the wink from start to finish.
ALGOL (ALGOrithmic Language) is also the name of a programming language that was devised in the late fifties then updated in the sixties (60, 68). There is no connection between the star and the programming language as to its name apart from it being the same.
Beta Persei (Bet Per) is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR936. HIP14576 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD19356.
Algol has alternative name(s) :- , bet Per. In Arabic, it is known as Al-Ghul.
Flamsteed designations are named after the creator, Sir John Flamsteed. Sir John numbered the stars in the constellation with a number and the latin name, this star's Flamsteed designation is 26 Persei with it shortened to 26 Per.
BD number is the number that the star was filed under in the Durchmusterung or Bonner Durchmusterung, a star catalogue that was put together by the Bonn Observatory between 1859 to 1903. The star's BD Number is BD+40 673.
More details on star alternative names can be found at Star Names .
The location of the star in the night sky is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the star is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Algol, the location is 03h 08m 10.13 and +40° 57` 20.3 .
All stars like planets orbit round a central spot, in the case of planets, its the central star such as the Sun. In the case of a star, its the galactic centre. The constellations that we see today will be different than they were 50,000 years ago or 50,000 years from now. Proper Motion details the movements of these stars and are measured in milliarcseconds. The star is moving -1.66 ± 0.86 miliarcseconds/year towards the north and 2.99 ± 1.40 miliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.
The Radial Velocity, that is the speed at which the star is moving away/towards the Sun is 3.70 km/s with an error of about 3.90 km/s . When the value is negative then the star and the Sun are getting closer to one another, likewise, a positive number means that two stars are moving away. Its nothing to fear as the stars are so far apart, they won't collide in our life-time, if ever.
Luminosity is the amount of energy that a star pumps out and its relative to the amount that our star, the Sun gives out. The figure of 119.22 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.
Algol has a spectral type of B8V. This means the star is a blue main sequence star. The star is 7,424.00 Parsecs from the Galactic Centre or in terms of Light Years is 24,214.37 s. The star has a B-V Colour Index of 0 which means the star's temperature has been calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu at being 9,531 Kelvin.
Algol Radius has been calculated as being 3.72 times bigger than the Sun.The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 2,588,884.40.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2. However with the 2007 release of updated Hipparcos files, the radius is now calculated at being round 3.60. The figure is derived at by using the formula from SDSS and has been known to produce widely incorrect figures.
Algol has an apparent magnitude of 2.09 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. If you used the 1997 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -0.18 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -0.11. Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.
Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 35.14 which gave the calculated distance to Algol as 92.82 light years away from Earth or 28.46 parsecs. It would take a spaceship travelling at the speed of light, 92.82 years to get there. We don't have the technology or spaceship that can carry people over that distance yet.
In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 36.27 which put Algol at a distance of 89.93 light years or 27.57 parsecs. It should not be taken as though the star is moving closer or further away from us. It is purely that the distance was recalculated.
Using the 2007 distance, the star is roughly 5,686,681.08 Astronomical Units from the Earth/Sun give or take a few. An Astronomical Unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun. The number of A.U. is the number of times that the star is from the Earth compared to the Sun.
The star's Galacto-Centric Distance is 7,424.00 Parsecs or 24,214.37 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.
The star is a eclipsing Beta Persei (Algol)/ variable type which means that its size changes over time. The Variable Type is usually named after the first star of that type to be spotted. Algol brightness ranges from a magnitude of 3.220 to a magnitude of 2.080 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star.
The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.
|Primary / Proper / Traditional Name||Algol|
|Alternative Names||Beta Persei, Bet Per, Al-Ghul, HD 19356, HIP 14576, HR 936, 26 Persei, 26 Per, BD+40 673, bet Per|
|Constellation's Main Star||Yes|
|Multiple Star System||Yes|
|Star Type||main sequence Dwarf Star|
|Absolute Magnitude||-0.18 / -0.11|
|Visual / Apparent Magnitude||2.09|
|Naked Eye Visible||Yes - Magnitudes|
|Right Ascension (R.A.)||03h 08m 10.13|
|Declination (Dec.)||+40° 57` 20.3|
|Galactic Latitude||-14.90 degrees|
|Galactic Longitude||148.98 degrees|
|1997 Distance from Earth||35.14 Parallax (milliarcseconds)|
|92.82 Light Years|
|2007 Distance from Earth||36.27 Parallax (milliarcseconds)|
|89.93 Light Years|
|5,686,681.08 Astronomical Units|
|Galacto-Centric Distance||24,214.37 Light Years / 7,424.00 Parsecs|
|Proper Motion Dec.||-1.66 ± 0.86 milliarcseconds/year|
|Proper Motion RA.||2.99 ± 1.40 milliarcseconds/year|
|Radial Velocity||3.70 ± 3.90 km/s|
|Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)||119.22|
|Orbital Period (Days)||680.05|
|Argument Of Periastron||130.29|
|Brightest in Night Sky||60th|
|Variable Star Class||Eclipsing|
|Variable Star Type||Beta Persei (Algol)/|
|Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)||2.080 - 3.220|
|Calculated Effective Temperature||9,531 Kelvin|
The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.
|Proper Motion mas/yr|
|H.D. Id||B.D. Id||Star Code||Magnitude||R.A.||Dec.||Spectrum||Colour||Year|
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