119 Tauri has a spectral class of M2 and a luminosity class of Iab-Ib, intermediate between an intermediate-luminosity supergiant and a less luminous supergiant. It is approximately 1,800 light years from Earth, and with a colour index of +2.07 it is one of the reddest naked eye stars in the night sky. It is a similar star to Betelgeuse although redder and more distant.
The head of the bull in the constellation Taurus in the upper right corner with the open star cluster of the Hyades and the bright star Aldebaran (α Tauri, 0,8m). On the left the two tips of the bull's horns Elnath (β Tauri, 1,6m, at the top, north of the ecliptic) and Tien Kuan (ζ Tauri, 2,9m, at the bottom, south of the ecliptic). A little bit below and right the Red Giant 119 Tauri (4,3m).
CE Tauri lies 4.6 degrees off the ecliptic. This makes it a candidate for occultations by the Moon and (extremely rarely) by one of the bright planets. The star's angular diameter has been measured by lunar occultation, giving limb-darkened visible light angular diameters of 9.1±0.8 mas,10.9±1.0 mas, and 9.0±0.2 mas. An occultation has also been observed in H-alpha, giving a diameter of 17±1 mas, which indicates that there is circumstellar hydrogen producing emission across at least that size, nearly twice the visible diameter.
The angular diameter of 119 Tauri has also been measured directly by VLBI, leading to limb-darkened diameters of 10.68±0.21 mas,9.83±0.07 mas,9.3±0.5 mas,9.97±0.08 mas,10.24±0.05 mas,9.68±0.05 mas. Although CE Tauri is classified as a pulsating variable, observations using the same equipment and wavelengths have not detected significant changes in the angular diameter over time. Reconstructed images of the surface show bright spots that are attributed to giant convection cells.
Angular diameter measurements can be combined with absolute observed fluxes to derive an accurate effective temperature, about 3,800 K for 119 Tauri. Combined with a distance, the linear size of the star can be calculated. CE Tauri is found to have a radius between 587 to 593 R☉. Then the bolometric luminosity is the star is found to be about 66,000 L☉. However, the distance to 119 Tauri is still only known approximately from its Hipparcos parallax. Gaia Data Release 2 gives a distinctly larger parallax, but with even greater uncertainty and flagged as unreliable.
119 Tauri is a pulsating star although the pulsation has not been clearly detected in direct angular measurements. Observations of TiO lines in its spectrum as its brightness changes show effective temperature changes up to 100 K. Calculating its physical properties shows that the bolometric luminosity and radius both change by about 10%, with the radius typically being larger at cooler temperatures.
Comparison of its properties with stellar evolutionary tracks shows CE Tauri to have evolved from an initial mass of 15 M☉ and to have a current mass of 14.37 M☉. An alternative interpretation of observations, under the assumption that CE Tauri is an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star, give it a current mass of 8 M☉ and a luminosity of 44,000 L☉.
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