Saturday, July 2, 2022

Cor Caroli in pills

Cor Caroli is a binary system located 110 light years away from Earth.

With an apparent magnitude of +2.89, it is the brightest star in the constellation Canes Venatici.

The system can be easily solved in its two components already through a small telescope, as shown in this image.

The main component of the system is a white star with a mass of 3 solar masses and 100 times brighter than the Sun. The secondary one is a yellow dwarf slightly larger and more massive than our star: its diameter and mass are respectively 1.4 and 1.5 times the solar ones.

A very particular story lies at the basis of the name Cor Caroli, which in can be translated as Heart of Charles. The star, despite being very bright, remained unnamed in the Western world until the seventeenth century, when it was assigned one by Charles Scarborough. He was a physicist in the service of the British Crown when King Charles I was assassinated in the English Civil War.

The monarchy was restored eleven years later by the return to England of Charles I's son, King Charles II. Scarborough noticed that on the day of Charles II's return a star in Canes Venatici was particularly bright and, realizing that the star had no name, he decided to name it Cor Caroli in honor of the two kings.

Credit: S. Smith.

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