Thursday 10 December 2020

Astrognome 100 Great Stars No 97 VV Cephei


VV Cephei

The constellation of Cepheus is not very easy to find and it is often eclipsed by other brighter constellations, to make up for this it does contain some interesting stars, including delta Cephei the prototype Cepheid variable star, the red supergiant Mu Cephei and VV Cephei.

VV Cephei is a colossal eclipsing binary, the primary star being a red supergiant with a small blue companion star. VV Cephei is so big that all the planets out to Jupiter from the Sun would be inside it. Its normal magnitude is 4.9 but it does vary between magnitudes 4.8 to 5.4 and lies at a distance of about 5,000 light years. As the larger red giant expands the smaller blue dwarf actually ends up inside the edge of the gas of the larger star.

As large as VV Cephei is astronomers do not classify it as a hypergiant merely a supergiant. It will at some point in the future become a supernova.


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