T Tauri

T Tauri

T Tauri. Image: Two Micron All Sky Survey.

T Tauri is the type T Tauri star, discovered in October 1852 by John Hind. It lies approximately 460 light-years (140 parsecs) from the Sun.


Like all of its kind, T Tauri is an irregular variable. It has been known to shine as brightly as magnitude 9.3 and as dimly as magnitude 14, though for the past century or so it has tended toward the brighter end of this range. It can vary by a few tenths of a magnitude on nearly a daily basis without any discernable pattern.


Not far from T Tauri, Hind found a reflection nebula, now called Hind's Variable Nebula, illuminated at the whim of its unreliable neighbor. Then in 1890, nearly 40 years after the discovery of the strange star, Shelburn Burnham found that T Tauri itself is nestled within a very small nebula, now popularly known as Burnham's Nebula. Much more recently, 30 arc-seconds west of the brightest point in Hind's nebula has been uncovered a Herbig-Haro object – a jet of the type commonly associated with young, mass-ejecting stars.


As if all this were not enough, T Tauri turns out to have a binary companion, detected by its infrared glow, 0.5 arc-second to the south (hence known as T Tauri S, while T Tauri becomes T Tauri N), and there is even data to such that T Tauri is a triple-star system.