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Suhail

Alsuhail, Lambda Velorum

A star representing part of the sail of the wide group of stars known as Argo Navis, the Ship Argo. That old constellation is now subdivided into three parts, leaving Suhail among the stars of Vela, the Sail. Despite its relatively low-ranking designation of Lambda Velorum, it is in fact the third brightest star in Vela, after Suhail al Muhlif and Delta Velorum.

The origins of the name Suhail are not completely clear. It seems to have originated as a star-name with brilliant Canopus, which was traditionally known in Arabic as al Suhail (perhaps originally meaning something like 'the steady one'). Several other stars within old Argo Navis came to share variants on this name with various qualifiers. Suhail itself was originally al Suhail al Wazn ('the Suhail of the ?Weight'), from which its common modern names of Suhail or Alsuhail derive. (Nearby Suhail al Muhlif is another of these 'Suhail' stars, with a name meaning 'the Suhail of the Oath'.)

Suhail is distant from the Solar System at some 540 light years, and is an intrinsically highly luminous star emitting thousands of times the light energy of the Sun. An orange supergiant with a diameter some 200 times that of the Sun, Suhail seems to be reaching the end of its life, and within just a few tens of millions of years it will most likely explode in a supernova while its core collapses into a white dwarf.

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