The Puppis Constellation

Puppis is a constellation in the southern sky. Puppis, the Poop Deck, was originally part of an over-large constellation, the ship of “Jason and the Argonauts,” Argo Navis, which centuries after its initial description was divided into three parts, the other two being Carina (the keel and hull), and Vela (the sails of the ship). Argo Navis was first catalogued by the astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. It was divided into the smaller constellations by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1752. Puppis is the largest of the three constellations in square degrees. It is one of the 88 modern constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. Puppis is the 20th constellation in size, occupying an area of 673 square degrees. It lies in the second quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ2) and can be seen at latitudes between +40° and -90°. The neighbouring constellations are Carina, Canis Major, Columba, Hydra, Monoceros, Pictor, Pyxis and Vela. Puppis belongs to the Heavenly Waters family of constellations, along with Carina, Columbia, Delphinus, Delphinus, Equuleus, Eridanus, Piscis Austrinus, Pyxis, and Vela.

Zeta Puppis is the brightest star in the constellation. It has the stellar classification O4If, which means that it is an exceptionally hot blue supergiant star. It is one of the few O-class stars that can be seen without binoculars. It has an apparent magnitude of 2.21 and is approximately 1,090 light years distant from the solar system. It is the 62nd brightest star in the sky. Zeta Puppis has a surface temperature of 42,000 K and a mass 22.5 times that of the Sun. It has a radius about 14 times solar and is 550,000 times more luminous than the Sun. The star’s stellar wind has a velocity of 2,500 km/s and, as a result, the star sheds over a millionth of its mass every year. This is about 10 million times more than the Sun sheds over the same period. Pi Puppis is the second brightest star in the constellation. It has an apparent magnitude of 2.733 and is approximately 810 light years distant from Earth. It is a double star that consists of an orange supergiant belonging to the stellar class K3 Ib and a companion with an apparent magnitude 6.86. The supergiant has a radius about 290 times solar. It is classified as a semi-regular variable star, and exhibits variations in brightness from magnitude 2.70 to 2.85. Pi Puppis is the brightest member of the open cluster Collinder 135. Rho Puppis is a yellow-white bright giant with the stellar classification F2mF5IIp. It has a visual magnitude of 2.78 and is approximately 63.5 light years distant from the Sun. It is the third brightest star in Puppis. The star is classified as a Delta Scuti type variable. Its brightness varies with an amplitude of 0.15 over a period of 0.14088143 days as a result of the star undergoing periodic pulsations. Rho Puppis is believed to be about 2 billion years old. It has a mass 1.85 times that of the Sun and a radius 3.41 times solar. It is 22 times more luminous than the Sun. The star exhibits an excess infrared emission, which indicates a presence of a circumstellar dust disk orbiting it.

Several extrasolar planetary systems have been found around stars in the constellation Puppis, including: On July 1, 2003, a planet was found orbiting the star HD 70642. This planetary system is much like Jupiter with a wide, circular orbit and a long period. On May 17, 2006, HD 69830 (the nearest star of this constellation) was discovered to have three Neptune-mass planets, the first multi-planetary system without any Jupiter-like or Saturn-like planets. The star also hosts an asteroid belt at the region between the middle planet to outer planet. On June 21, 2007, the first extrasolar planet found in the open cluster NGC 2423, was discovered around the red giant star NGC 2423-3. The planet is at least 10.6 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at 2.1 AU distance. On September 22, 2008, two Jupiter-like planets were discovered around HD 60532. HD 60532 b has a minimum mass of 1.03 MJand orbits at 0.759 AU and takes 201.3 days to complete the orbit. HD 60532 c has a minimum mass of 2.46 MJ and orbits at 1.58 AU and takes 604 days to complete the orbit.

As the Milky Way runs through Puppis, there are a large number of open clusters in the constellation. M46 and M47 are two open clusters in the same binocular field. M46 is a circular open cluster with an overall magnitude of 6.1 at a distance of approximately 5400 light-years from Earth. M46 is classified as a Shapley class f and a Trumpler class III 2 m cluster. This means that it is a rich cluster that appears distinct from the star field; however, it is not at its centre. The cluster’s stars, numbering between 50 and 100, have a moderate range in brightness. M47’s brightest stars are 6th magnitude. Messier 93 is another open cluster to the south. NGC 2298 is a globular cluster with an apparent magnitude of 9.3. It was discovered by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop on May 8, 1826. It is approximately 30,000 light years distant from the solar system. The planetary nebula NGC 2438 is superimposed; it is approximately 2900 light-years from Earth. NGC 2440 is a planetary nebula in Puppis. It has an apparent magnitude of 9.4 and is approximately 4,000 light years distant from Earth. The central star in the nebula, HD 62166, is possibly the hottest white dwarf known. It has a surface temperature of 200,000 kelvins and is 1,100 times more luminous than the Sun. It has 0.6 times the mass of the Sun and only 0.028 times the solar radius. The star has an apparent magnitude of 17.5. The nebula was discovered by William Herschel on March 4, 1790. The nebula was notably footnoted in the Battlestar Galactica series, in the episode “Crossroads: Part II,” as one of the major markers on the way to Earth. The Ionian Nebula is seen in the episode, which is a supernova remnant and not a planetary nebula, both resembles NGC 2440 and is located 4,000 light years from Earth. NGC 2451 is a very bright open cluster containing the star c Puppis and the near NGC 2477. NGC 2467 is a star-forming region in Puppis constellation. It is occasionally mentioned as an open cluster, but is not in itself a distinct open cluster, but consists of several groups of stars superimposed on one another along the same line of sight. The dominant star in the region is HD 64315, a massive young blue star belonging to the stellar class O6. The H II region of the nebula has been a popular target among scientists studying the process of star formation. The star Pi Puppis is the main component of a bright group of stars known as Collinder 135. Credits: Constellation Guide, Wikipedia.