Star Names:

Columba


Map of The Constellation of Columba
Please hover over any star to get more information
Columba is a small constellation in the southern hemisphere, created by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius in the 16th century. Its name means "dove" in Latin and it is depicted as a bird with flapping wings, holding an olive spring in its mouth. Plancius originally named it "Columba Noae," or "Noah's Dove," after the dove that told Noah that the Great Flood was receding.

The other possible origin of the name is the story of Jason and the Argonauts, and the dove they sent out to help them navigate the passage at the mouth of the Black Sea. The passage consisted of rocks that would move closer together as a ship approached. The Argonauts had been told that if any living creature passed through the passage, the Symplegades, alive, the rocks would never move again. The dove, helped by the goddess Athena, flew between the rocks so fast that they crashed against each other instead of killing the bird.

The Columba constellation occupies an area of 270 square degrees and does not contain any stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +45° and -90° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of February.

The brightest star in the Columba constellation is [2723] alpha Columbae, or Phact, from the Arabic word for "dove," "Al-Fakhita." It is a magnitude 3 binary star system that consists of a Be-type supergiant, a suspected [1880] gamma Cassiopeiae type variable with an expanding gas shell surrounding it, and a distant, faint companion star.

[2724] beta Columbae, also known as Wazn or Wezn ("weight"), is the second brightest star in the constellation Columba. It is a K-type giant with an apparent visual magnitude of 3.12, lying approximately 86 light-years from Earth.

Another interesting feature in the constellation is the runaway star [2734] mu Columbae, presumably expelled from the [5978] iota Orionis system after a collision between two binary star systems. It belongs to the O-class of stars, the rarest type among main sequence stars. Mu Columbae is a fast rotating star that completes the revolution cycle every 1.5 days.

Other notable stars are [2725] delta Columbae, a binary yellow giant star also known as Ghusm as Zaitun ("the olive branch"), [2727] eta Columbae, a yellow-orange giant, and [2728] gamma Columbae, a blue subgiant star approximately 854 light-years distant.

Columba also contains an interesting deep sky object. NGC 1808 is a Seyfert galaxy, a barred spiral galaxy with notable similarities to the Milky Way, approximately 40 million light-years distant. It has a peculiar nucleus, in the shape of a warped disk, with unusual flows of hydrogen gas coming out of the central regions. It is believed to be a starburst galaxy, one undergoing a lot of star formation.

Columba belongs to the Heavenly Waters family of constellations, along with Delphinus, Equuleus, Eridanus, Piscis Austrinus, Carina, Puppis, Vela and Pyxis.

Constellations directly bordering Columba are Lepus, Caelum, Pictor, Puppis and Canis Major.


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