Alpha Virginis (Alf Vir) 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 HR5056. HIP65474 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD116658.
Spica has alternative name(s) :- , alf Vir.
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 67 Virginis. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 67 Vir.
The Gould star designation is one that was designed by American astronomer, Benjamin Apthorp Gould. Gould stars are predominantly in the Southern and Equatorial constellations but do appear in northern constellations such as Bootes and Orion. The star has the designation 144 G. Virginis. There are no stars with a Gould designation in Ursa Major for example.
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-10 3672.
More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .
The location of the main sequence 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 Spica, the location is 13h 25m 11.60 and -11° 09` 40.5 .
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 -30.67 ± 0.38 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and -42.35 ± 0.70 milliarcseconds/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 0.00 km/s with an error of about 3.70 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.
Based on the star's spectral type of B1V , Spica's colour and type is blue main sequence star. The star's effective temperature is 25,300 Kelvin which is hotter than our own Sun's effective Temperature which is 5,777 Kelvin.
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 13,071.47 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.
Spica Radius has been calculated as being 7.47 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 5,197,626.00.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2.
The Spica's solar mass is 11.43 times that of our star, the Sun. The Sun's Mass is 1,989,100,000,000,000,000,000 billion kg. which to calculate using this website is too large. To give idea of size, the Sun is 99.86% the mass of the solar system.
Spica Iron Abundance is -0.01 with an error value of 9.99 Fe/H with the Sun has a value of 1 to put it into context. The value comes from the Hipparcos Extended Catalog.
Spica has an apparent magnitude of 0.98 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 -3.55 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -3.44. 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 12.44 which gave the calculated distance to Spica as 262.19 light years away from Earth or 80.39 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is about 1,541,316,786,595,010.71, based on 1 Ly = 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles.
In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 13.06 which put Spica at a distance of 249.74 light years or 76.57 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 15,793,586.16 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 7,366.00 Parsecs or 24,025.19 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.
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.
|Description||Speed (m.p.h.)||Time (years)|
|Speed of Sound (Mach 1)||767.269||218,280,416.55|
|Concorde (Mach 2)||1,534.54||109,140,066.03|
|New Horizons Probe||33,000||5,075,145.36|
|Speed of Light||670,616,629.00||249.74|
The star is a rotating Rotating ellipsoidal 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. Spica brightness ranges from a magnitude of 0.907 to a magnitude of 0.866 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star. Its variable/pulsating period lasts for 4.0 days (variability).
The Alpha Virginids Meteor Shower radiants from a point near this star. The meteor shower runs typically between March 10-May 6 with a peak date of Apr. 7-18. The speed of a meteor in the shower is 19 Km/s.
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||Spica|
|Alternative Names||Alpha Virginis, Alf Vir, HD 116658, HIP 65474, HR 5056, 144 G. Virginis, 67 Virginis, 67 Vir, BD-10 3672, alf Vir|
|Constellation's Main Star||Yes|
|Multiple Star System||Yes|
|Star Type||Main Sequence Dwarf Star|
|Absolute Magnitude||-3.55 / -3.44|
|Visual / Apparent Magnitude||0.98|
|Naked Eye Visible||Yes - Magnitudes|
|Right Ascension (R.A.)||13h 25m 11.60|
|Declination (Dec.)||-11° 09` 40.5|
|Galactic Latitude||50.84 degrees|
|Galactic Longitude||316.11 degrees|
|1997 Distance from Earth||12.44 Parallax (milliarcseconds)|
|262.19 Light Years|
|2007 Distance from Earth||13.06 Parallax (milliarcseconds)|
|249.74 Light Years|
|15,793,586.16 Astronomical Units|
|Galacto-Centric Distance||24,025.19 Light Years / 7,366.00 Parsecs|
|Proper Motion Dec.||-30.67 ± 0.38 milliarcseconds/year|
|Proper Motion RA.||-42.35 ± 0.70 milliarcseconds/year|
|Radial Velocity||0.00 ± 3.70 km/s|
|Iron Abundance||-0.01 ± 9.99 Fe/H|
|Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)||13,071.47|
|Brightest in Night Sky||16th|
|Variable Star Class||Rotating|
|Variable Star Type||Rotating ellipsoidal|
|Mean Variability Period in Days||4.015|
|Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)||0.866 - 0.907|
|Radius (x the Sun)||7.47|
|Effective Temperature||19,982 Kelvin|
|Mass Compared to the Sun||11.43|
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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