Wolf 359

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Wolf 359
Leo constellation map.JPG
Observational Data
Designation Wolf 359
CN Leonis
Right ascension 10h 56m 28.865s[1]
Declination +07° 00′ 52.77″[1]
Constellation Leo
Type of object Star
Magnitude Apparent Mag: 13.54[2]
Absolute Mag: 16.64[3]
Astrometry
Distance from Earth 7.78 ly[4]
Radial velocity 19±1 km/s[1]
Proper motion RA: -3842 mas/yr[1]
Dec.: -2725 mas/yr[1]
Parallax 419.1 ± 2.10 mas[1]

Wolf 359 is the fourth closest star at only 7.7 light years; only Proxima Centauri, Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star are closer. The star can be found in the constellation of Leo. One of the faintest known stars, it cannot be seen by the unaided eye and has a visual magnitude of only 13.54.

Discovered in 1918 by German astronomer Max Wolf, whom the star is named after, Wolf 359 is a dim red dwarf with a spectral class of M5.8Ve. The star's mass is between 9 and 13 percent of Sol's, and has a diameter of approximately 16 to 19 of Sol's. The luminosity is a mere 0.002% of our own star, so dim if Wolf 359 replaced our sun, it would appear only 10 times brighter then the moon from our world. Like many red dwarfs, Wolf 359 is a flare star, and can violently flare and brighten on occasion. However these flares are not as intense and are less frequent then on well known flare stars such as UV Ceti or Proxima Centauri.[5][4]

At present there are no known companion bodies orbiting Wolf 359.[6] For an Earth-like world to have liquid water on its surface (within the habitable zone), it would have to be only 0.0042 AU from its parent star. Such a world would be tidally locked to Wolf 359, and be repeatedly exposed to intense radiation from the occasional flares.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Wolf 359 from the SIMBAD Astronomical Database
  2. Landolt, A. (1992). UBVRI photometric standard stars in the magnitude range 11.5-16.0 around the celestial equator. The Astronomical Journal, 104, p.340. Astrophysics Data System
  3. From definition of absolute magnitude, using apparent magnitude (+13.54) and distance (7.78 ly) given here.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wolf 359 from solstation.com
  5. Gershberg, R. and Shakhovskaya, N. (1983). Characteristics of activity energetics of the UV cet-type flare stars. Astrophysics and Space Science, 95(2), pp.235-253. Astrophysics Data System
  6. Schroeder, D. et al. (2000). A Search for Faint Companions to Nearby Stars Using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The Astronomical Journal, 119(2), pp.906-922. Astrophysics Data System