The Star α Camelopardalis

The Star α Cam

The constellation Camelopardalis is an unremakable region between UMI and AUR,PER without visual bright stars. So the constellation was introduced not earlier than 1612 or 1613 by the Dutch-Flemish astronomer Petrus Plancius. wp α Cam is the third brightest star in this constellation with \(m_v=4.3\).

alfa Cam with sky coords
α Cam is the bright star at 4h 54m 3s +66° 20′ 34″.
Captured with 75mm EO lens on QHY 5-II mono.
Coord overlay with astrometry.net

α Cam is an O-type star and those stars do not become very old. After some ten millions of years they eventually explode in a supernova of type I. The star could not be born in this place because stars were born in larger groups, open clusters for instance. So where does it come from?

According to Blaauw 1961 α Cam was ejected from the open cluster NGC 1506. This open cluster lies in approximately the same distance from earth as α Cam and is not to far away from the star in space. There are at least two ways to eject a star from an open cluster. First the star was a binary whose companion exploded in a supernova. An the remaining star moves onward in a straight line. Second way all other stars of the cluster created accidentally a gravitational field that pulled the star out of its cluster. Those ejected stars are called run away stars. According to Blaauw the space velocity is 59 km/s. The WISE Team at Caltech claim for a speed of 4000 km/s. A false color image from 2011 shows α Cam creating a shock wave in the interstellar medium.

alpha Cam speeds thru the interstellar medium
Color Mapping: Blue=3.4 microns; Cyan=4.6 microns; Green=12 microns; Red=22 microns
NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

Last modified: 2022 Jul 17