Why is Sirius described as red in western ancient books? Maybe the ancients were wrong

The universe is vast and mysterious. Modern human beings have left the earth and started to explore the universe. We have advanced astronomical telescopes and other detection equipment to see many celestial bodies and mysterious phenomena in the universe. As a matter of fact, the research and exploration of the universe had already begun in ancient times. At that time, there were no telescopes, and people mainly studied space by naked eyes.

We should not underestimate the wisdom of the ancients. Although people in ancient times could only observe the starry sky with naked eyes, they still discovered some secrets of the starry sky. For example, in the early days, people thought that the earth was the center of the universe. Later, by observing the stars in the sky, they found that the sun was the center, and the earth was just a planet revolving around the sun. This was a great achievement when there were no astronomical telescopes and other observation equipment in ancient times.

The ancients preserved the data obtained by observing the stars for many years through words, some of which were lost in the long history, and some of which were preserved in the constant changes of the times. There is an astronomer named Ptolemy in Gucci hunting. He is very interested in studying the stars in the universe. In his description of the stars in the universe, he describes Sirius as red. In addition to Ptolemy, there are other ancient Western records that describe Sirius as red. What’s the matter?


The Sirius we see is white. It is an a1v type white main sequence star with twice the mass of the sun. Sirius was formed 230 million years ago. It has been in the stage of white main sequence star since its formation, so it can’t appear red. Why is it described as red in many western ancient records?

Let’s take a look at the records of Sirius in Chinese ancient books. We should know that China is a country with a very long history of civilization, and the earliest research and records of the universe also came from China. By consulting the ancient books, we find that the color of Sirius has been described as white horse by Chinese ancient astronomers. Now we understand that it must be the red Sirius described in ancient Western books. It is likely that it was wrong. Why did it make such a mistake? Why did the Western ancients regard the stars hanging in the sky as red?

In fact, this problem is not complicated. In the 19th century, astronomers discovered that Sirius also had a companion star, Sirius B. Later, it was recognized that Sirius B was a white dwarf with a mass close to that of the sun. Before Sirius B evolves into a white dwarf, it needs to expand into a red giant. Will the red Sirius described by Western ancients be Sirius B, which is evolving into a red giant?


Later, through analysis, scientists believed that this would not be the case. We should know that Sirius B had evolved into a white dwarf as early as 120 million years ago, but before human beings were born 120 million years ago, it was naturally impossible for the ancients to see Sirius B expanding into a red giant. Finally, scientists have come to the conclusion that the ancient western people may have recognized Arcturus as Sirius.

From this, we can also see that the ancients of our country were better at observing stars and exploring the universe in ancient times. Although China started later than the West in the field of space exploration and development, the space development in recent years is very fast. Manned spaceflight, Chang’e lunar exploration and space station are constantly advancing rapidly. It is believed that China will soon surpass the western developed countries in space exploration.

Guys, why do you think the ancients described Sirius as red? Welcome to comment below.


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