Beta Ursae Minoris

Coordinates: Sky map 14h 50m 42.3s, +74° 09′ 20″
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Location of β Ursae Minoris (circled)
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Ursa Minor
Right ascension 14h 50m 42.32580s[1]
Declination +74° 09′ 19.8142″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 2.08[2]
Spectral type K4 III[3]
U−B color index +1.78[2]
B−V color index +1.47[2]
Radial velocity (Rv)+16.96[4] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: −32.61[1] mas/yr
Dec.: +11.42[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)24.91 ± 0.12 mas[1]
Distance130.9 ± 0.6 ly
(40.1 ± 0.2 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)−0.83±0.010[5]
Mass2.2 ± 0.3[6] M
Radius42.06 ± 0.91[7] R
Luminosity390 ± 25[7] L
Surface gravity (log g)1.83[7] cgs
Temperature4,030[7] K
Metallicity [Fe/H]–0.29[7] dex
Rotational velocity (v sin i)8[8] km/s
Other designations
Kocab, Kochah, 7 Ursae Minoris, Al Kaukab al Shamaliyy, BD+74 595, FK5 550, HD 131873, HIP 72607, HR 5563, SAO 8102, PLX 3373.00[9]
Database references
SIMBADBeta Ursae Minoris

Kochab /ˈkkæb/, Bayer designation Beta Ursae Minoris (β Ursae Minoris, abbreviated β UMi, Beta UMi),[10][11] is the brightest star in the bowl of the Little Dipper asterism (which is part of the constellation of Ursa Minor), and only slightly fainter than Polaris, the northern pole star and brightest star in Ursa Minor. Kochab is 16 degrees from Polaris and has an apparent visual magnitude of 2.08.[2] The distance to this star from the Sun can be deduced from the parallax measurements made during the Hipparcos mission, yielding a value of 130.9 light-years (40.1 parsecs).[1]

Amateur astronomers can use Kochab as a precise guide for equatorial mount alignment: The celestial north pole is located 38 arcminutes away from Polaris, very close to the line connecting Polaris with Kochab.[12]


β Ursae Minoris (Latinised to Beta Ursae Minoris) is the star's Bayer designation.

It bore the traditional name Kochab, which appeared in the Renaissance and has an uncertain meaning. It may be from Arabic: الكوكب al-kawkab or Hebrew: כוכב kōkhāv, both of which are broadly used to describe a celestial body and can be translated as 'planet' or 'star'. However, it is more likely derived from Alrucaba or Rucaba, a name applied to Theta Ursae Majoris.[10]: 58  In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (IAU-WGSN)[13] to catalog and standardize proper names for stars. The IAU-WGSN's first bulletin, July 2016,[14] included a table of the first two batches of names approved by the IAU-WGSN, which included Kochab for this star.

In Chinese astronomy, 北極 Běi Jí ('North Pole') refers to an asterism consisting of Beta Ursae Minoris, Gamma Ursae Minoris, 5 Ursae Minoris, 4 Ursae Minoris and Σ 1694.[15] Consequently, the Chinese name for Beta Ursae Minoris itself is 北極二 Běi Jí èr ('the Second Star of North Pole'), representing ('emperor').[16]


This is a 'red' giant star with a stellar classification of K4 III.[3] It is 130 times more luminous than the Sun. Kochab has reached a state in its evolution where the outer envelope has expanded to 42 times the radius of the Sun.[7] This enlarged atmosphere is radiating 390 times as much light from its outer atmosphere as the Sun, but through a surface more than 1,700 times larger than the Sun's surface area, hence at a lower effective temperature of 4,030 K.[7] (The Sun's effective temperature is 5,772 K.[17]) This relatively low heat gives the star the typical orange-hued glow of a K-type star.[18]

By modelling this star based upon evolutionary tracks, the mass of this star can be estimated as 2.2 ± 0.3 M. A mass estimate using the interferometrically-measured radius of this star and its spectroscopically-determined surface gravity yields 2.5 ± 0.9 M.[6] The star is known to undergo periodic variations in luminosity over roughly 4.6 days, with the astroseismic frequencies depending sensitively on the star's mass. From this, a much lower mass estimate of 1.3 ± 0.3 M is reached.[6]

As the pole star[edit]

From around 2500 BCE, as Thuban became less and less aligned with the north celestial pole, Kochab became one "pillar" of the circumpolar stars, first with Mizar, a star in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), and later with Pherkad (in Ursa Minor).[19] In fact, around the year 2467 BCE, the true north was best determined by drawing a plumb line between Mizar and Kochab, a fact with which the Ancient Egyptians were well acquainted, as they aligned the great Pyramid of Giza with it.[19] This cycle of the succession of pole stars occurs due to the precession of the equinoxes. Kochab and Mizar were referred to by Ancient Egyptian astronomers as 'The Indestructibles' lighting the North.[19] As precession continued, by the year 1100 BCE, Kochab was within roughly 7° of the north celestial pole, with old references over-emphasizing this near pass by referring to Beta Ursae Minoris as "Polaris",[20] relating it to the current pole star, Polaris, which is slightly brighter and will have a much closer alignment of less than 0.5° by 2100 CE.[20]

This change in the identity of the pole stars is a result of Earth's axial precession. After 2000 BCE, Kochab and a new star, its neighbor Pherkad, were closer to the pole and together served as twin pole stars, circling the North Pole from around 1700 BCE until just after 300 CE. Neither star was as close to the north celestial pole as Polaris is now.[21] Today, they are sometimes referred to as the "Guardians of the Pole".[21]

Preceded by Pole star Succeeded by
Tau Herculis c. 1800 BC - 300 CE Polaris

Planetary system[edit]

Estimated to be around 2.95 billion years old, give or take 1 billion years, Kochab was announced to have a planetary companion around 6.1 times as massive as Jupiter with an orbit of 522 days.[22]

The Kochab planetary system[23]
(in order from star)
Mass Semimajor axis
Orbital period
Eccentricity Inclination Radius
b ≥6.1 ± 1.0 MJ 1.4 ± 0.1 522.3 ± 2.7 0.19 ± 0.02


  1. ^ a b c d e f van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007). "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 474 (2): 653–664. arXiv:0708.1752. Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357.
  2. ^ a b c d Johnson, H.L.; Iriarte, B.; Mitchell, R.I.; Wisniewskj, W.Z. (1966). "UBVRIJKL photometry of the bright stars". Communications of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. 4 (1): 99–110. Bibcode:1966CoLPL...4...99J.
  3. ^ a b Morgan, W.W.; Keenan, P.C. (September 1973). "Spectral Classification". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 11: 29–50. Bibcode:1973ARA&A..11...29M. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.11.090173.000333.
  4. ^ Famaey, B.; Jorissen, A.; Luri, X.; Mayor, M.; Udry, S.; Dejonghe, H.; Turon, C. (12 January 2005). "Local kinematics of K and M giants from CORAVEL / Hipparcos / Tycho-2 data: Revisiting the concept of superclusters". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 430 (1): 165–186. arXiv:astro-ph/0409579. Bibcode:2005A&A...430..165F. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20041272.
  5. ^ Park, Sunkyung; Kang, Wonseok; Lee, Jeong-Eun; Lee, Sang-Gak (21 August 2013). "Wilson-Bappu effect: Extended to surface gravity". The Astronomical Journal. 146 (4): 73. arXiv:1307.0592. Bibcode:2013AJ....146...73P. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/146/4/73.
  6. ^ a b c Tarrant, N.J.; Chaplin, W.J.; Elsworth, Y.; Spreckley, S.A.; Stevens, I.R. (June 2008). "Oscillations in ß Ursae Minoris: Observations with SMEI". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 483 (3): L43–L46. arXiv:0804.3253. Bibcode:2008A&A...483L..43T. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200809738.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Piau, L.; Kervella, P.; Dib, S.; Hauschildt, P. (February 2011). "Surface convection and red-giant radius measurements". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 526 (A100): 12. arXiv:1010.3649. Bibcode:2011A&A...526A.100P. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201014442.
  8. ^ Bernacca, P.L.; Perinotto, M. (1970). "A catalogue of stellar rotational velocities". Contributi Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova in Asiago. 239: 1. Bibcode:1970CoAsi.239....1B.
  9. ^ "bet UMi". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  10. ^ a b Kunitzsch, P.; Smart, T. (2006). A Dictionary of Modern Star Names: A short guide to 254 star names and their derivations (2nd, revised ed.). Sky Publishing. ISBN 1-931559-44-9.
  11. ^ IAU Catalog of Star Names (TXT) (Report). Archived from the original on 2016-08-12. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Geocentric Positions of Major Solar System Objects and Bright Stars". US Naval Observatory. Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  13. ^ "Division C WG Star Names". International Astronomical Union. Archived from the original on 2016-06-10. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Bulletin of the IAU Working Group on Star Names" (PDF). July 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-09-09. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  15. ^ zh:陳久金 [Chen, Jiujin] (December 2005). 中國星座神話 [Chinese Constellation Myths] (in Chinese). Taiwan: 台灣書房出版有限公司 [Taiwan Book Publishing Co. Ltd.] ISBN 978-986-7332-25-7.[page needed]
  16. ^ "研究資源 – 亮星中英對照表" [Research resources – Chinese-English star name comparison table]. 香港太空館 [Hong Kong Space Museum] (in Chinese and English). Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  17. ^ Williams, D.R. (1 July 2013). "Sun fact sheet". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  18. ^ "The colour of stars". Australia Telescope, Outreach and Education. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 21 December 2004. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  19. ^ a b c "The planet Earth: Ancient astronomy calendars, navigation, predictions". Space Today, Online. 2006. Archived from the original on 2020-10-03.
  20. ^ a b Kaler, James B. (20 December 2013). "Kochab (Beta Ursae Minoris)". Astronomy. Stars. University of Illinois. Archived from the original on 2018-06-25. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  21. ^ a b Benningfield, Damond (14 June 2015). Kochab. McDonald Observatory. StarDate (radio program). University of Texas. Archived from the original (.mp3) on 2015-09-04. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  22. ^ Lee, B.-C.; Han, I.; Park, M.-G.; Mkrtichian, D.E.; Hatzes, A.P.; Kim, K.-M. (June 2014). "Planetary companions in K giants β Cancri, μ Leonis, and β Ursae Minoris". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 566 (A67): 7. arXiv:1405.2127. Bibcode:2014A&A...566A..67L. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201322608.
  23. ^ Schneider, Jean. "Planet β Umi b". Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Archived from the original on 2017-03-12. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
Preceded by Pole Star
1900 BC500 BC
Succeeded by