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Asterion, Beta Canum Venaticorum, 8 Canum Venaticorum

Chara is notable as being a star very much like the Sun. As a yellow dwarf with no known companions, it shows approximatelty how the Sun would appear if viewed from a distance of a little under thirty light years. Indeed, it is so similar to the Sun that it is considered a strong candidate by those searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (though to date no planets have been located around the star).

Chara in Canes Venatici shines against a field of galaxies in the sky. Two of these are visible in the northwest of this image: the Cocoon Galaxy, NGC 4490, and its small companion NGC 4485. Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas

Though similar to the Sun in many ways, Chara is by no means identical. It is somewhat less massive, and also poorer in 'metals' (in this context, elements with atomic numbers greater than helium), and also rather older than the Sun, which means that it is also a little more luminous. A field of faint galaxies form a backdrop to this star, of which by far the most prominent is the Cocoon Galaxy (NGC 4490), just 40 arcminutes to the northwest.

The constellation of Canes Venatici is made up of two star-groups representing two separate hunting dogs. The name Chara (from the Greek for 'joy') was originally the name for the entire southern dog (which also included the star Cor Caroli), and Beta Canum Venaticorum was given the name Asterion, 'little star'. This is no longer the case, and the name Chara is now formally used for the individual star Beta Canum Venaticorum rather than a part of the larger constellation.


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