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Beta Mensae

Mensa, the Table Mountain, is a generally faint constellation. Beta Mensae is its third brightest star (after Alpha and Gamma Mensae), but is nonetheless so faint that it lies on the edge of naked eye visibility. It falls within the northern parts of the constellation, where it meets Dorado to the north, and the border between the two constellations is marked by the Large Magellanic Cloud. Seen from Earth, Beta Mensae lies close to the edges of the Cloud (though in fact that small galaxy lies far beyond the star).

Beta Mensae lies on the fringes of the Large Magellanic Cloud in the sky, and the slight hazing in the northeast of this image marks the edge of that Cloud. The cluster of stars to the east (left) of Beta Mensae is NGC 1848, which is associated with the distant Large Magellanic Cloud, and the Cloud can be seen more fully by zooming out on this dynamic image. Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas

Based on the Gaia survey parallax data, Beta Mensae lies about 681 light years from the Sun (where earlier data estimated that it was rather more distant, perhaps as far away as eight hundred light years). A yellow giant with no known companion stars or planets, Beta Mensae is an evolved star in the later stages of its existence, having consumed its reserves of hydrogen and expanded to its current giant status.


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