Universe Guide

What is the Belt of Orion?

Belt of Orion

The Belt of Orion refers to three stars in a diagonal line that are roughly in the middle of the constellation. They represent the belt that Orion, the Hunter wore when he was a person before becoming a constellation.

The constellation in thanks partly to the three stars is probably the easiest constellation to spot when you look up into the skies. It can be seen best in the winter months but is not limited to then. The stars are Alnitak (Zeta Orionis), Alnilam (Epsilon Orionis) and Mintaka (Delta Orionis).

Once you have located the three stars, you can then locate other stars. To the diagonal down right of Mintaka is Rigel which is the second brightest star in the constellation. To the right of that star is Witch-Head Nebula which is officially located in the constellation of Eridanus is lit up due to the radiation emit ted from Rigel.

At the other end of the belt, Alnitak is just above the Great Orion Nebula complete the with the Horseshead. The Great Orion Nebula is probably the most famous Nebula known. To the upper left of Alnitak is Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), it is a giant star that is nearing it death. It is the most likely star to go supernova in the next million or so years. Betelgeuse is believed to be a Cannibal Star, one that has eaten its neighbouring star.

All the three stars are multiple star systems and none are as yet believed to have any exoplanets in orbit round. You can't say never as we could still find a planet round them. At the time of writing, it was only recent that a star was located in orbit round Barnard's Star which is the closest solo star to have an exoplanet discovered in orbit round it. Any planet in orbit round these stars and was habitable would probably be similar to Tatooine in the Star Wars galaxy. Its not unknown for a multiple star system to have a planet, the star Algieba in the constellation of Leo is a double star with a planet, albeit a gas giant. The Algieba planet is more Bespin, a gas giant than a habitable planet.

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