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This article "Spica" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

Virgo constellation map.svg
Red circle.svg
Location of Spica (circled)
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Virgo
Pronunciation /ˈspkə/ or /ˈspkə/[1][2]
Right ascension  13h 25m 11.579s[3]
Declination −11° 09′ 40.75″[3]
Apparent magnitude (V) +0.97[4] (0.97 - 1.04[5])
Spectral type B1 III-IV/B2 V[6]
U−B color index −0.94[4]
B−V color index −0.23[4]
Variable type β Cep + Ellipsoidal[5]
Radial velocity (Rv)+1.0[7] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: −42.35 ± 0.62[3] mas/yr
Dec.: −30.67 ± 0.37[3] mas/yr
Parallax (π)13.06 ± 0.70[3] mas
Distance250 ± 10 ly
(77 ± 4 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)−3.55 (−3.5/−1.5)[8]
Period (P)4.0145±0.0001 d
Semi-major axis (a)28.20±0.92 R
Eccentricity (e)0.133±0.017
Inclination (i)63.1±2.5°
Periastron epoch (T)2,454,189.4±0.02
Argument of periastron (ω)
Mass11.43±1.15 M
Radius7.47±0.54 R
Surface gravity (log g)3.71±0.10 cgs
Temperature25,300±500 K
Rotational velocity (v sin i)165.3±4.5 km/s
Age12.5 Myr
Mass7.21±0.75 M
Radius3.74±0.53 R
Surface gravity (log g)4.15±0.15 cgs
Temperature20,900±800 K
Rotational velocity (v sin i)58.8±1.5 km/s
Other designations
Spica, Azimech, Spica Virginis, Alaraph, α Virginis, Alf Vir, 67 Virginis, HR 5056, BD -10°3672, HD 116658, GCTP 18144, FK5 498, CCDM 13252-1109, SAO 157923, HIP 65474.[10]
Database references

Spica, also designated Alpha Virginis (α Virginis, abbreviated Alpha Vir, α Vir), is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo and the 16th brightest star in the night sky. Analysis of its parallax shows that it is located 250 ± 10 light years from the Sun.[3] It is a spectroscopic binary and rotating ellipsoidal variable; a system whose two main stars are so close together they are egg-shaped rather than spherical, and can only be separated by their spectra. The primary is a blue giant and a variable star of the Beta Cephei type.

Spica, along with Denebola or Regulus depending on the source and Arcturus, is part of the Spring Triangle asterism, and by extension, also of the Great Diamond together with the star Cor Caroli.

Observation history[edit]

As one of the nearest massive binary star systems to the Sun, Spica has been the subject of many observational studies.[11]

Spica is believed to be the star that gave Hipparchus the data that led him to discover the precession of the equinoxes.[12] A temple to Menat (an early Hathor) at Thebes was oriented with reference to Spica when it was built in 3200 BC, and, over time, precession slowly but noticeably changed Spica's location relative to the temple.[13] Nicolaus Copernicus made many observations of Spica with his home-made triquetrum for his researches on precession.[14][15]


How to locate the star Spica

Spica is 2.06 degrees from the ecliptic and can be occulted by the Moon and sometimes by the planets. The last planetary occultation of Spica occurred when Venus passed in front of the star (as seen from Earth) on November 10, 1783. The next occultation will occur on September 2, 2197, when Venus again passes in front of Spica.[16] The Sun passes a little more than 2° north of Spica around October 16 every year, and the star's heliacal rising occurs about two weeks later. Every 8 years, Venus passes Spica around the time of the star's heliacal rising, as in 2009 when it passed 3.5° north of the star on November 3.[17]

A method of finding Spica is to follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper (Plough) to Arcturus, and then continue on the same angular distance to Spica. This can be recalled by the mnemonic phrase, "arc to Arcturus and spike to Spica."


Spica is a close binary star whose components orbit about each other every four days. They stay close enough together that they cannot be resolved as two stars through a telescope. The changes in the orbital motion of this pair results in a Doppler shift in the absorption lines of their respective spectra, making them a double-lined spectroscopic binary.[18] Initially, the orbital parameters for this system were inferred using spectroscopic measurements. Between 1966 and 1970, the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer was used to observe the pair and to directly measure the orbital characteristics and the angular diameter of the primary, which was found to be (0.90 ± 0.04) × 10−3 arcseconds, and the angular size of the semi-major axis of the orbit was found to be only slightly larger at (1.54 ± 0.05) × 10−3 arcseconds.[8]

The primary star has a stellar classification of B1 III–IV. The luminosity class matches the spectrum of a star that is midway between a subgiant and a giant star, and it is no longer a B-type main-sequence star.[6] This is a massive star with more than 10 times the mass of the Sun and seven times the Sun's radius. The total luminosity of this star is about 12,100 times that of the Sun, and eight times the luminosity of its companion. The primary is one of the nearest stars to the Sun that has enough mass to end its life in a Type II supernova explosion.[19][20]

The primary is classified as a Beta Cephei-type variable star that varies in brightness over a 0.1738-day period. The spectrum shows a radial velocity variation with the same period, indicating that the surface of the star is regularly pulsating outward and then contracting. This star is rotating rapidly, with a rotational velocity of 199 km/s along the equator.[18]

The secondary member of this system is one of the few stars whose spectrum is affected by the Struve–Sahade effect. This is an anomalous change in the strength of the spectral lines over the course of an orbit, where the lines become weaker as the star is moving away from the observer.[11] It may be caused by a strong stellar wind from the primary scattering the light from secondary when it is receding.[21] This star is smaller than the primary, with about 7 times the mass of the Sun and 3.6 times the Sun's radius.[18] Its stellar classification is B2 V, making this a main-sequence star.[6]

Spica is a rotating ellipsoidal variable, which is a non-eclipsing close binary star system where the stars are mutually distorted through their gravitational interaction. This effect causes the apparent magnitude of the star system to vary by 0.03 over an interval that matches the orbital period. This slight dip in magnitude is barely noticeable visually.[22] Both stars rotate faster than their mutual orbital period. This lack of synchronization and the high ellipticity of their orbit may indicate that this is a young star system. Over time, the mutual tidal interaction of the pair may lead to rotational synchronization and orbit circularization.[23]

Spica is an polarimetric variable, which suggests that protostellar material is entrained between the two stars.[24]


α Virginis (Latinised to Alpha Virginis) is the system's Bayer designation.

The traditional name Spica derives from Latin spīca virginis "the virgin's ear of [wheat] grain". It was also anglicized as Virgin's Spike. Johann Bayer cited the name Arista.

Other traditional names are Azimech, from Arabic السماك الأعزل al-simāk al-a‘zal, 'the Undefended'; Alarph, Arabic for 'the Grape Gatherer', and Sumbalet (Sombalet, Sembalet and variants), from Arabic sunbulah "corn ear".[25]

In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)[26] to catalog and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN's first bulletin of July 2016[27] included a table of the first two batches of names approved by the WGSN; which included Spica for this star. It is now so entered in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.[28]

In Chinese, 角宿 (Jiǎo Sù), meaning Horn (asterism), refers to an asterism consisting of Spica and ζ Virginis.[29] Consequently, Spica are known as 角宿一 (Jiǎo Sù yī, English: the First Star of Horn).[30]

In Hindu astronomy, Spica corresponds to the Nakshatra Chitrā.

In culture[edit]

Both American ships USS Spica (AK-16) and USNS Spica (T-AFS-9) were named after this star while USS Azimech (AK-124), a Crater-class cargo ship, was given one of the star's medieval names.

A blue star represents Spica on the flag of the Brazilian state of Pará. Spica is also the star representing Pará on the Brazilian flag.

A South Korean Girl Group was named after the star.

Spica is a Vocaloid song sung by Hatsune Miku

In a non-canonical chapter in Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World-, Subaru had a daughter with Rem named Spica.

Spica is the pseudonym of Lili in the children's manga series, Zodiac P.I.

In his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Cornelius Agrippa attributes Spica's kabbalistic symbol Agrippa1531 Spica.png to Hermes Trismegistus.


  1. "How to pronounce Spica". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  2. "Main definitions of spica in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 van Leeuwen, F. (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. Vizier catalog entry
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ducati, J. R. (2002). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: Catalogue of Stellar Photometry in Johnson's 11-color system". CDS/ADC Collection of Electronic Catalogues. 2237: 0. Bibcode:2002yCat.2237....0D.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ruban, E. V.; Alekseeva, G. A.; Arkharov, A. A.; Hagen-Thorn, E. I.; Galkin, V. D.; Nikanorova, I. N.; Novikov, V. V.; Pakhomov, V. P.; Puzakova, T. Yu. (2006). "Spectrophotometric observations of variable stars". Astronomy Letters. 32 (9): 604. Bibcode:2006AstL...32..604R. doi:10.1134/S1063773706090052.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Schnerr, R. S.; et al. (June 2008). "Magnetic field measurements and wind-line variability of OB-type stars". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 483 (3): 857–867. arXiv:1008.4260. Bibcode:2008A&A...483..857S. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20077740.
  7. Wilson, Ralph Elmer (1953). General Catalogue of Stellar Radial Velocities. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington. Bibcode:1953GCRV..C......0W. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. 8.0 8.1 Herbison-Evans, D.; Hanbury Brown, R.; Davis, J.; Allen, L. R. (1971). "A study of alpha Virginis with an intensity interferometer". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 151 (2): 161–176. Bibcode:1971MNRAS.151..161H. doi:10.1093/mnras/151.2.161.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tkachenko, A.; et al. (May 2016), "Stellar modelling of Spica, a high-mass spectroscopic binary with a β Cep variable primary component", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 458 (2): 1964–1976, arXiv:1601.08069, Bibcode:2016MNRAS.458.1964T, doi:10.1093/mnras/stw255
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  13. Allen, Richard Hinckley (2003). Star Names and Their Meanings. Kessinger Publishing. p. 468. ISBN 0-7661-4028-8. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. Rufus, W. Carl (April 1943). "Copernicus, Polish Astronomer, 1473–1543". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 37 (4): 134. Bibcode:1943JRASC..37..129R.
  15. Moesgaard, Kristian P. (1973). "Copernican influence on Tycho Brahe". In Jerzy Dobrzycki. The reception of Copernicus' heliocentric theory: proceedings of a symposium organized by the Nicolas Copernicus Committee of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science. Toruń, Poland: Studia Copernicana, Springer. ISBN 90-277-0311-6.
  16. Earth-Sky Tonight, March 26, 2010 Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
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  19. Kaler, Jim. "Spica". Stars. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
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  23. Beech, M. (August 1986). "The ellipsoidal variables. III - Circularization and synchronization". Astrophysics and Space Science. 125 (1): 69–75. Bibcode:1986Ap&SS.125...69B. doi:10.1007/BF00643972.
  24. Cotton, D. V.; et al. (January 2016). "The linear polarization of Southern bright stars measured at the parts-per-million level". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 455 (2): 1607–1628. arXiv:1509.07221. Bibcode:2016MNRAS.455.1607C. doi:10.1093/mnras/stv2185.
  25. Star Names - Their Lore and Meaning, by Richard Hinckley Allen
  26. "IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)". Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  27. "Bulletin of the IAU Working Group on Star Names, No. 1" (PDF). Retrieved 28 July 2016.
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  29. (in Chinese) 中國星座神話, written by 陳久金. Published by 台灣書房出版有限公司, 2005, ISBN 978-986-7332-25-7 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png..
  30. (in Chinese) AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 6 月 27 日

Coordinates: Sky map 13h 25m 11.5793s, −11° 09′ 40.759″