The stars Altair and Deneb, along with Vega, form a star pattern known as the summer triangle. In this triangle, Vega is the biggest and brightest star.
Vega (vee-ga) is a part of the constellation Lyra; it is also known as Alpha Lyrae, and the Harp Star. The word Lyra originates from the word lyre, which is an instrument, and the constellation is shaped like a harp; according to Greek mythology, it symbolizes the harp played by Orpheus. It is said that when he played this harp, it would mesmerize everyone, the Gods and the mortals alike, and Vega was the harp's handle.
Another example is of a Japanese legend, where Vega is called Tanabata. The legend goes that Tanabata, an ethereal princess, fell in love with a human, Kengyu. However, her father forbade this union, prohibiting his daughter from meeting her mortal lover. Taking pity on them, the sky gods united the two, once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon. A bridge of magpies would form over the celestial river that separated them, and the two would meet. Here, Tanabata symbolizes Vega, while Kengyu symbolizes the star Altair. Fascinating, isn't it? Here are some more interesting facts about the star Vega.
★ Vega gets its name from the Arabic word Waqi, which means 'falling' or 'swooping'.
★ Vega is the fifth-brightest star in the sky, and the third-brightest visible from the mid-northern parts of the earth, after Arcturus and Sirius.
★ In places like New York and Madrid, this star sets for about 7 hours every day. On the contrary, in areas like Canada and Alaska (in some regions), it never sets and is visible on any night.
★ The distance between Vega and the Earth is 25 light years.
★ Vega is only about a tenth of the sun's age. However, given its size and speed, it is believed that the star will exhaust much faster, to become a red giant, and then a white dwarf.
★ Currently, Vega's age is estimated to be between 500 and 625 years, which is believed to be its half-life. Research points to the star's life cycle exhausting in another 500 to 650 million years, much faster than the sun's 10 billion.
★ It has a surface temperature of 17,000°F (9,500°C). This is almost two times more than the surface temperature of the sun!
★ Unlike our sun, which takes about 27 days to rotate around its axis, Vega takes a mere 12.5 hours.
★ It is known to be rotating at about 90% of its critical rotation speed (the speed at which it would explode into pieces).
★ It has an absolute magnitude of 0.58, and an apparent magnitude 0.03 v, which gives it its brightness.
★ Due to its fast speed, this star bulges at its equator, causing the temperature there to drop by two to three thousand degrees.
★ Vega's radius is 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), which is around two and a half times the sun's size.
★ Given its size and temperature, there is no doubt that Vega is brighter than the sun. And this is not a small figure; Vega's luminosity is roughly 40 times that of the sun!
★ Vega has a different composition as compared to other stars. While stars usually contain silicate, Vega mainly consists of carbon-containing material like graphite.
★ Apart from our sun, Vega was the first star ever to be photographed. It was captured by John Adams Whipple and William Bond at the Harvard Observatory in July 1850, using a daguerreotype process.
★ The Hollywood movie, Contact, adopted from Carl Sagan's popular novel, shot this star to fame.
★ It is one of the Pole Stars, and will replace Polaris in 10 to 12 thousand years. It was seen at the North Pole about 26,000 years ago.
★ Vega is surrounded by an asteroid belt. This has led scientists to look into the possibility of a planetary presence near the star.
★ Scientists are also studying the possible presence of an entire solar system, like that of ours, around Vega.
These were some amazing facts about the Vega star. It is truly said that such wonders are rare to come by, and given the unique look and illuminating brightness of this star, nobody can deny that.