Star Names:

Vela


Map of The Constellation of Vela
Please hover over any star to get more information
Vela is a constellation in the southern hemisphere. Its name is Latin for "sails." The stars of Vela used to be part of a larger constellation, Argo Navis, named after the ship on which the Argonauts sailed home after their expedition for the Golden Fleece. Argo Navis was split by the International Astronomical Union into three separate constellations, Carina (the keel), Puppis (the stern) and Vela (the sails). The stars' designations were not changed, which is why Vela does not have any stars designated alpha or beta Velorum.

The constellation Vela occupies an area of 500 square degrees and contains four stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +30° and -90° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of March.

The brightest star in Vela is [8597]-[8581] gamma Velorum, also known as Regor (reverse for "Roger," after the astronaut Roger Chaffee) and Suhail or Suhail al Muhlif ("the glorious star of the oath"). Gamma Velorum also has the nickname the Spectral Gem of the Southern Skies because it emits bright lines instead of dark absorption lines, which results in an exotic looking spectrum. Gamma Velorum is actually a multiple star system, composed of at least six stars. The brightest one is [8581] gamma-2 Velorum, a spectroscopic binary star that consists of a blue supergiant and the heaviest Wolf-Rayet star ever discovered. The nearest neighbouring star, [8597] gamma-1 Velorum, is a bright, blue-white subgiant. Gamma Velorum has an apparent magnitude of 1.78 and is approximately 800 light-years distant.

[8582] delta Velorum, the second brightest star, is another multiple system. It is composed of two binary stars. The primary component is a white dwarf with a fainter companion, while the second pair consists of 11th and 13th magnitude stars. Delta Velorum lies 79.7 light-years from Earth. It is notable for being the brightest eclipsing binary star known.

[8583] lambda Velorum, the third brightest star, is a supergiant or bright giant classified as an irregular variable. It is about 570 light-years distant and its apparent magnitude varies between 2.14 and 2.30. It is also known by its traditional name, Suhail Alwazn ("the glorious star of the cycle").

The constellation Vela also contains an asterism known as the False Cross, formed by the stars [8582] delta Velorum, [8584] kappa Velorum, [1671] iota Carinae and [1670] epsilon Carinae. The asterism got its name because it is often confused with the Southern Cross in the constellation Crux.

Notable deep sky objects in Vela are the Eight-burst Nebula (NGC 3132), the Vela Supernova Remnant and the Gum Nebula.

The Eight-burst Nebula (NGC 3132), also known as the Southern Ring Nebula, is a bright planetary nebula approximately 2,000 light-years from Earth. It contains two faint stars lying close together. The central one is a hot white dwarf that emits the ultraviolet radiation that illuminates the nebula.

The Vela Supernova Remnant is a remnant of a star that exploded between 11,000 and 12,300 years ago approximately 800 light-years from Earth. The remnant is associated with a pulsar that emits radio, optical, gamma and X-rays, the Vela Pulsar, and also includes the Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736), named for its long, pencil-like appearance.

The Gum Nebula, or Gum 12, is also believed to be a remnant of the Vela Supernova Remnant. It is a faint emission nebula that stretches into the constellation Puppis. It was named after the Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum, who discovered it in the 1950s.

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

Constellations directly bordering Vela are Antlia, Pyxis, Puppis, Carina and Centaurus.



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