Universe Guide

Alnilam (Epsilon Orionis, 46 Orionis) Star Facts

Alnilam Facts

  • Alnilam is a pulsating supergiant star that can be located in the constellation of Orion. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Alnilam is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (B0Ia) of the star, the star's colour is blue .
  • Alnilam is the 29th brightest star in the night sky and the 4th brightest star in Orion based on the Hipparcos 2007 apparent magnitude. The star can be seen with the naked eye, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.
  • Using the most recent figures given by the 2007 Hipparcos data, the star is 1976.75 light years away from us. Distance

Alnilam's Alternative Names

Epsilon Orionis (Eps Ori) is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Bayer Classification was created by Johann Bayer in 1603. The brightest star in the constellation is normally given the Alpha designation, there are exceptions such as Pollux which is Beta Geminorum.

The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR1903. HIP26311 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD37128.

Alnilam has alternative name(s) :- , eps Ori. In Arabic, it is known as An-Nidham.

Flamsteed designations are named after the creator, Sir John Flamsteed. Sir John named the stars in the constellation with a number and its latin name, this star's Flamsteed designation is 46 Orionis. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 46 Ori.

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-01 969.

More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .

Location of Alnilam

The location of the supergiant 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 object is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Alnilam, the location is 05h 36m 12.81 and -01° 12` 06.9 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Alnilam

Proper Motion

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 -0.78 ± 0.19 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and 1.44 ± 0.45 milliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.

Radial Velocity

The Radial Velocity, that is the speed at which the star is moving away/towards the Sun is 27.30000 km/s with an error of about 0.80 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.

Physical Properties of Alnilam

Alnilam Colour and Temperature

Based on the star's spectral type of B0Ia , Alnilam's colour and type is blue supergiant star. The star has a B-V Colour Index of -0.18 which means the star's temperature is about 19,382 Kelvin. The temperature was calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu.

Alnilam Luminosity

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 112,138.15 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Alnilam Radius

Alnilam estimated radius has been calculated as being 15.64 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 10,880,611.09.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 23.023805613468363948902316894. The figure is derived at by using the formula from SDSS rather than peer reviewed papers. It has been known to produce widely incorrect figures.

Alnilam Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Alnilam has an apparent magnitude of 1.69 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 -6.38 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -7.22. 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.

Distance to Alnilam

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 2.43000 which gave the calculated distance to Alnilam as 1342.24 light years away from Earth or 411.52 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 7,890,526,120,901,968.69, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 1.65000 which put Alnilam at a distance of 1976.75 light years or 606.06 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 125,007,977.41 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 7,758.00 Parsecs or 25,303.75 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.

Travel Time to Alnilam

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A3807361,801,143,235.56
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.2691,727,740,103.37
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.54863,868,925.79
New Horizons Probe33,00040,170,952.16
Speed of Light670,616,629.001,976.75

Variable Type of Alnilam

The star is a pulsating Alpha Cygnus 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. Alnilam brightness ranges from a magnitude of 1.648 to a magnitude of 1.603 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star. Its variable/pulsating period lasts for 0.0 days (variability).

Source of Information

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.

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Additional Alnilam Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NameAlnilam
Alternative NamesEpsilon Orionis, Eps Ori, An-Nidham, HD 37128, HIP 26311, HR 1903, 46 Orionis, 46 Ori, BD-01 969, eps Ori
Spectral TypeB0Ia
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemYes
Star Type very luminous Supergiant Star
GalaxyMilky Way
Absolute Magnitude -6.38 / -7.22
Visual / Apparent Magnitude1.69
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)05h 36m 12.81
Declination (Dec.)-01° 12` 06.9
Galactic Latitude-17.24173331 degrees
Galactic Longitude205.21206247 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth2.43000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 1342.24 Light Years
 411.52 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth1.65000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 1976.75 Light Years
 606.06 Parsecs
 125,007,977.41 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance25,303.75 Light Years / 7,758.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.-0.78000 ± 0.19000 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.1.44000 ± 0.45000 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index-0.18
Radial Velocity27.30000 ± 0.80 km/s
Semi-Major Axis8227.0000000
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)112138.1500000
Brightest in Night Sky29th

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Variable Star Details

Variable Star ClassPulsating
Variable Star TypeAlpha Cygnus
Mean Variability Period in Days0.035
Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)1.603 - 1.648

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)23.02
Effective Temperature19,382 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Multi-Star System

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. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
37128-01 969.0A1.80000-3.00000-2.00000B0Blue/White

Location of Alnilam in Orion

Alnilam Location in Orion

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

Orion Main Stars

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