Universe Guide

Alpha Pictoris

Alpha Pictoris Facts

  • Alpha Pictoris is a subgiant star that can be located in the constellation of Pictor. The description is based on the spectral class.
  • Alpha Pictoris is a main star of the constellation outline.
  • Based on the spectral type (A7IV) of the star, the star's colour is blue - white .
  • Alpha Pictoris is the 1st brightest star in Pictor 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 96.56 light years away from us. Distance

Alpha Pictoris's Alternative Names

Alpha Pictoris (Alf Pic) 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 HR2550. HIP32607 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD50241. The Gliese ID of the star is GL 248. The star was part of the original catalogue devised by German Astronomer Wilheim Gliese of stars located within 20 parsecs of Earth. Star Names

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

Location of Alpha Pictoris

The location of the subgiant 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 Alpha Pictoris, the location is 06h 48m 11.54 and -61° 56` 31.1 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Alpha Pictoris

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 242.97 ± 1.62 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and -66.07 ± 1.78 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 15.30000 km/s with an error of about 1.30 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 Alpha Pictoris

Alpha Pictoris Colour and Temperature

Based on the star's spectral type of A7IV , Alpha Pictoris's colour and type is blue - white subgiant star. The star's effective temperature is 7,536 Kelvin which is hotter than our own Sun's effective Temperature which is 5,777 Kelvin.

Alpha Pictoris 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 36.53 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Alpha Pictoris Radius

Alpha Pictoris estimated radius has been calculated as being 3.63 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 2,523,810.90.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 3.5446380578149446462805504472. 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.

Alpha Pictoris Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Alpha Pictoris has an apparent magnitude of 3.24 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 0.83 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of 0.88. 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 Alpha Pictoris

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 32.96000 which gave the calculated distance to Alpha Pictoris as 98.96 light years away from Earth or 30.34 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 581,748,766,930,250.05, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 33.78000 which put Alpha Pictoris at a distance of 96.56 light years or 29.60 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 6,105,395.72 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 7,399.00 Parsecs or 24,132.83 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 Alpha Pictoris

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 A38073687,981,986.00
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.26984,396,400.34
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.5442,198,145.17
New Horizons Probe33,0001,962,264.90
Speed of Light670,616,629.0096.56

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 Alpha Pictoris Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NameAlpha Pictoris
Alternative NamesAlf Pic, HD 50241, HIP 32607, HR 2550, Gliese 248
Spectral TypeA7IV
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemNo / Unknown
Star TypeSubgiant Star
GalaxyMilky Way
Absolute Magnitude 0.83 / 0.88
Visual / Apparent Magnitude3.24
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)06h 48m 11.54
Declination (Dec.)-61° 56` 31.1
Galactic Latitude-24.09940521 degrees
Galactic Longitude271.91934427 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth32.96000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 98.96 Light Years
 30.34 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth33.78000 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 96.56 Light Years
 29.60 Parsecs
 6,105,395.72 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,132.83 Light Years / 7,399.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.242.97000 ± 1.62000 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.-66.07000 ± 1.78000 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index0.22
Radial Velocity15.30000 ± 1.30 km/s
Semi-Major Axis7422.0000000
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)36.5300000

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)3.54
Effective Temperature7,650 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Location of Alpha Pictoris in Pictor

Alpha Pictoris Location in Pictor

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

Pictor Main Stars

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