Dorado and Volans – Facts for Kids

Dorado and Volans – Facts for Kids
Flying fish live in warm oceans, and so do the mahi mahi fish. Sailors in the southern seas saw the flying fish using their side fins like wings to glide through the air – sometimes chased by hungry mahi mahi. Dorado (Mahi mahi) pursues Volans (Flying fish) in the stars of the southern sky.

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In the 16th century, star globes and star charts showed what you could see in the sky from Europe and the Mediterranean area.
The constellations of classical myths are in the part of the sky that the ancient Greeks and Romans could see. Much of the southern sky was unknown to Europeans for many centuries.

Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) was a Dutch astronomer and celestial mapmaker in the days when Europeans were exploring the southern hemisphere.
Plancius wanted to make a celestial globe that included stars of the southern sky. He used observations made by Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser (c.1540–96) and Frederick de Houtman (1571-1627) to make some new constellations. Instead of classic myths, the theme of many of the new constellations was nature. Volans and Dorado were two of them.

Dorado and Volans first appeared in a star atlas in 1603.
Plancius put the constellations on his globe, but their first appearance in an atlas was in Johann Bayer's Uranometria.

We can't see either Volans or Dorado north of latitude 20°.
That means they aren't visible in the continental USA, Canada, Europe, and much of the Middle East and Asia. However they're visible throughout the southern hemisphere.

The main stars of Dorado and Volans are easily visible, but neither constellation seems to have any bright stars.
Even the main stars of the two constellations don't look bright to us, but it's because they're a long way away.

The brightest star that we see in our night sky is Sirius. How would the stars of Volans and Dorado compare to Sirius if they were the same distance from us?
a. The six main stars of Volans are all over 100 light years away, but they would all look brighter than Sirius if they were as close to us as Sirius is.
b. Dorado's brightest star Alpha Doradus would be twice as bright as Sirius at the same distance. And it's amazing that we can see Beta Doradus at all, since it's over 1000 light years away. If it were in Sirius's place, it would outshine Venus in our night sky.

Both Volans and Dorado have stars with known planets. As of August 2018, there were nine confirmed planets.
Astronomers are interested in the planets of sunlike stars, hoping for something earth-sized, especially if it's in the habitable zone. The habitable zone is where water can exist as a liquid. Volans has two sunlike stars with planets, but both planets are Jupiter-sized. There are four more Jupiter-type around Dorado stars. Yet it also has red dwarf star Gliese 163 with a planetary system of three confirmed planets and a possible fourth. None of the planets is earth-like, but they're smaller than Jupiter.

Volans has a beautiful galaxy created by a galactic collision.
Two galaxies collided to produce the Lindsay-Shapley ring galaxy, 300 million light years away. The shockwave set off starbirth, and the new stars expanded into a ring around the new galaxy. [Image: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)]

The Larger Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is in Dorado.
The LMC is a small galaxy that's a near neighbor of our Milky Way. It contains many interesting features, including a superbubble and the splendid Tarantula Nebula. [Credit: ESO/Manu Meijas]

A superbubble is an enormous hollow in the material between the stars.
The space between the stars isn't empty. It contains nebulae with the gases and dust that stars are made of. The winds that blow off the stars carve shapes in the material around it. If there are lots of stellar winds and supernovae, it may make a cavity hundreds of light years across. There is hot gas in it, but not much else. Our Solar System probably formed in such a bubble.

The Tarantula Nebula is 170,000 light years away. Yet it's so big and bright, you can see it without a telescope.
The nearest big star-forming region to Earth is the Orion Nebula. If the Tarantula Nebula were there instead, it would be so bright that it would cast shadows on Earth.



You Should Also Read:
Life and Death of Massive Stars – Facts for Kids
Nebulae – Ten Facts for Kids
Tarantula Nebula – Facts for Kids

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