Mira B

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Mira B
The red giant star Mira (right), and its companion Mira B on the left. Taken on December 11, 1995
Credit: Hubble Space Telescope, using the Faint Object Camera
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Cetus
Right ascension 02h 19m 20.80s[1]
Declination −02° 58′ 40.0″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 9.5[2]
Spectral type DA[3]
Distance approx. 300[4] ly
(approx. 90 pc)
Other designations
VZ Cet, ο Cet B, WDS J02193-0259Ab, CCDM J02194-0258P, WD 0216-032
Database references

Mira B, also known as VZ Ceti, is the companion star to the variable star Mira. Suspected as early as 1918, it was visually confirmed in 1923 by Robert Grant Aitken, and has been observed more or less continually since then, most recently by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.[5] Its orbit around Mira is poorly known; the most recent estimate listed in the Sixth Orbit Catalog of Visual Binary Stars gives an orbital period of roughly 500 years, with a periastron around the year 2285. Assuming the distance in the Hipparcos catalog and orbit are correct, Mira A and B are separated by an average of 100 AU.

Long-known to be erratically variable itself, its fluctuations seem to be related to its accretion of matter from Mira's stellar wind, which makes it a symbiotic star.[6]

Current research[edit]

In January 2007, astronomers at the Keck Observatory announced the discovery of a protoplanetary disk around Mira B. Discovered via infrared data, the disk is apparently derived from captured material from Mira itself; Mira B accretes as much as one percent of the matter lost by its primary. Though planetary formation is perhaps unlikely as long as the disk is in active accretion, it may proceed apace once Mira A completes its red giant phase and becomes a white dwarf remnant.

This new data suggested that Mira B is actually a normal main-sequence star of spectral type K and roughly 0.7 solar masses, rather than a white dwarf as first envisioned.[7] However, a 2010 analysis of rapid optical brightness variations has indicated that Mira B is in fact a white dwarf.[8]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Skiff, B. A. (2014). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: Catalogue of Stellar Spectral Classifications". VizieR On-line Data Catalog. Bibcode:2014yCat....1.2023S. 
  2. ^ Samus', N. N.; et al. (2003). "An Electronic Version of the Second Volume of the General Catalogue of Variable Stars with Improved Coordinates". Astronomy Letters. 29: 468–479. Bibcode:2003AstL...29..468S. doi:10.1134/1.1589864. 
  3. ^ Warner, B. (1972). "Observations of rapid blue variables - VIII. The companion to Mira". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 159: 95–100. Bibcode:1972MNRAS.159...95W. doi:10.1093/mnras/159.1.95. 
  4. ^ van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007). "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 474 (2): 653–664. arXiv:0708.1752Freely accessible. Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. 
  5. ^ Robert Burnham, Jr., Burnham's Celestial Handbook, Vol. 1, (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1978), 637-8.
  6. ^ James Kaler, The Hundred Greatest Stars, (New York: Copernicus Books, 2002), 121.
  7. ^ "First Planet-Forming Disk Found in the Environment of a Dying Star." Accessed 1/10/07. http://www.keckobservatory.org/article.php?id=99 (Dead Link - Redirects to home page.) Link updated 2014-08-06 to URL: http://www.keckobservatory.org/recent/entry/first_planet-forming_disk_found_in_the_environment_of_a_dying_star Accessed: 2014-08-06. (Archived by WebCite®at http://www.webcitation.org/6RcsZtZiy)
  8. ^ Sokoloski; Lars Bildsten (2010). "Evidence for the White Dwarf Nature of Mira B". arXiv:1009.2509v1Freely accessible [astro-ph.SR].