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Editorial Office, E. Corona Australis. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/56007 (accessed on 16 April 2024).
Editorial Office E. Corona Australis. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/56007. Accessed April 16, 2024.
Editorial Office, Encyclopedia. "Corona Australis" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/56007 (accessed April 16, 2024).
Editorial Office, E. (2024, March 08). Corona Australis. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/56007
Editorial Office, Encyclopedia. "Corona Australis." Encyclopedia. Web. 08 March, 2024.
Corona Australis
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Corona Australis, Latin for "Southern Crown," is a small constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere. Situated near the celestial equator, it represents a crown or wreath and is associated with various mythological interpretations across different cultures. Despite its modest size, Corona Australis contains several interesting celestial objects.

astronomy constellation IAU

1. Introduction

Corona Australis, Latin for "Southern Crown," is a constellation located in the southern celestial hemisphere. Positioned near the celestial equator, it occupies an area of approximately 128 square degrees. The celestial coordinates of Corona Australis lie between approximately right ascension 18h 00m to 19h 30m and declination -40° to -50°. This places the constellation in close proximity to other prominent southern constellations such as Scorpius and Sagittarius (Figure 1). Its location in the southern sky makes it primarily visible from latitudes south of the equator, although portions of the constellation can be observed from some northern latitudes during favorable conditions.

Corona Australis is characterized by its distinctive shape resembling a crown or wreath, as depicted in various mythological interpretations. In Greek mythology, the constellation is often associated with a laurel wreath placed in the heavens to honor the hero Theseus. Other cultures have also attributed different symbolic meanings to the constellation, reflecting the universal fascination with celestial patterns and their significance in human culture and storytelling.

Despite its modest size and lack of bright stars, Corona Australis contains several interesting celestial objects, including young stars, star clusters, and nebulae. The Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex, located within the constellation, is a region of active star formation, providing astronomers with valuable insights into the birth and evolution of stars. Additionally, the Corona Australis Nebula, a reflection nebula illuminated by nearby young stars, adds to the constellation's allure as a target for observational studies and astrophotography.

Figure 1. IAU chart of Corona Australis. Source: https://www.iau.org/static/archives/images/screen/cra.jpg. Credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope. Reproduced under CC BY 4.0 license.

2. Historical Background and Mythology

Corona Australis, or the Southern Crown, has a rich historical background and is steeped in mythological significance across various cultures throughout history. Its association with crowns, wreaths, and celestial royalty has inspired tales and legends that continue to captivate the human imagination.

In Greek mythology, Corona Australis is often linked to the legend of Theseus, a heroic figure known for slaying the Minotaur in the labyrinth of Crete. According to the myth, after Theseus successfully defeated the Minotaur, he returned to Athens in triumph. In celebration of his victory, Theseus was adorned with a laurel wreath, a symbol of victory and honor. To commemorate this heroic feat, the gods placed the laurel wreath in the heavens, forming the constellation Corona Australis.

Similarly, in Roman mythology, the constellation is associated with the laurel wreath and is sometimes depicted as the crown of Apollo, the god of the sun, light, music, and poetry. Apollo was often depicted wearing a crown of laurel leaves, symbolizing his victory over the serpent Python. The placement of Corona Australis in the sky was seen as a tribute to Apollo's triumph and his divine status as the god of prophecy and knowledge.

In indigenous Australian astronomy, Corona Australis is also recognized as a significant celestial feature. Aboriginal cultures in Australia have their own interpretations of the stars and constellations, often incorporating them into their Dreamtime stories and cultural traditions. While specific myths and legends about Corona Australis may vary among different Indigenous groups, the constellation is often associated with themes of creation, spirituality, and the interconnectedness of all living beings.

Corona Australis's historical background and mythology extend beyond Greco-Roman and Indigenous cultures. Various ancient civilizations, including the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, also observed and documented the stars and constellations visible in the night sky. While the exact mythological interpretations of Corona Australis may differ among these cultures, the constellation's association with crowns, wreaths, and celestial royalty underscores its universal significance as a symbol of honor, victory, and divine power.

3. Notable Stars

Alfecca Meridiana (Alpha Coronae Australis): Alfecca Meridiana, also known as Alpha Coronae Australis, is the brightest star in the Corona Australis constellation. It is a binary star system composed of two main-sequence stars located approximately 130 light-years away from Earth. The primary star is a spectral type A0V, meaning it is a blue-white dwarf star, while the secondary star is a spectral type F2V, indicating a yellow-white dwarf star. This binary system is visible to the naked eye and serves as a useful navigational marker for observers.

Beta Coronae Australis: Beta Coronae Australis is another notable star in the constellation. It is a multiple star system located approximately 500 light-years away from Earth. The primary star is a blue-white main-sequence star, while the secondary star is a fainter companion. Beta Coronae Australis is interesting to astronomers due to its status as a hierarchical triple star system, where the primary and secondary stars orbit each other, while the tertiary star orbits the binary system as a whole.

Gamma Coronae Australis: Gamma Coronae Australis is a binary star system located approximately 90 light-years away from Earth. The primary star is a yellow-white dwarf star, while the secondary star is a fainter companion. This binary system has a separation of about 4 arcseconds and is challenging to resolve with small telescopes. Gamma Coronae Australis is of interest to astronomers studying stellar dynamics and binary star systems.

Delta Coronae Australis: Delta Coronae Australis is a double star system located approximately 440 light-years away from Earth. The primary star is a yellow-white dwarf star, while the secondary star is a fainter companion. This binary system is visible in small telescopes and provides amateur astronomers with an opportunity to observe a close binary star system.

4. Deep-Sky Objects

Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex: The Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex is a region of dense interstellar gas and dust located near the Corona Australis constellation. It spans approximately 8 degrees in the sky and is one of the closest regions of ongoing star formation to Earth. Within this molecular cloud complex, numerous young stars are actively forming, surrounded by protoplanetary disks of gas and dust. The densest parts of the molecular cloud complex give rise to dark nebulae, such as the Corona Australis Dark Cloud, which are visible against the backdrop of bright stars. The Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex provides astronomers with valuable insights into the processes of star formation and the formation of planetary systems.

NGC 6729 and the Reflection Nebula IC 4812: NGC 6729 is a reflection nebula located within the Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex. It is illuminated by the young star R Coronae Australis, which is embedded within the nebula. The reflection nebula IC 4812 is also associated with NGC 6729 and is visible as a faint blue glow caused by starlight scattering off dust grains in the interstellar medium. Together, NGC 6729 and IC 4812 form a visually striking region of gas and dust, providing astronomers with opportunities to study the process of star formation and the properties of young stellar objects.

R Coronae Australis and the R Coronae Australis Nebula: R Coronae Australis is a young variable star located within the Corona Australis Molecular Cloud Complex. It is surrounded by a reflection nebula known as the R Coronae Australis Nebula, which is illuminated by the star's intense radiation. The R Coronae Australis Nebula is characterized by its blue coloration, caused by starlight scattering off dust particles in the surrounding interstellar medium. This region of active star formation offers astronomers valuable insights into the early stages of stellar evolution and the formation of planetary systems.

NGC 6541: NGC 6541 is a globular cluster located near the border of the Corona Australis constellation. It is one of the more distant globular clusters visible from Earth, situated approximately 22,000 light-years away. NGC 6541 contains hundreds of thousands of stars densely packed into a spherical shape, making it a captivating target for astronomers and amateur stargazers alike. Observations of NGC 6541 provide insights into the dynamics of globular clusters and the properties of stars in the outer regions of the Milky Way galaxy.

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