Universe Guide

Rigel (Beta Orionis, 19 Orionis) Star Facts

Rigel Facts

Information on Rigel

Rigel is one of the brightest stars in the northern hemisphere that is easy to locate in the sky. This is due in part thanks to the unmistakable belt of Orion, three stars in diagonal line. Once you have spotted the line, you just work your way down diagonally from the right send star which is Mintaka. It is a bright blue star compared to our own white-yellow star, The Sun.

It is a multi-star system with two smaller, dimmer companion stars orbiting round it. As it is a giant star compared to our own, it will burn its hydrogen at a faster rate that the Sun, life fast and die young. It is a Main Sequence star which means it is currently burning through its hydrogen into helium.

Rigel one character different from the English name Nigel has been used as character names. In the eighties there was a comic strip in a computer magazine called "Nigel from Rigel" but more famously, the Farscape character Dominar Rygel XVI is also inspired by the name. aliens from this part of the milky way are inevitably known as Rigellians.

Rigel's Alternative Names

Beta Orionis (Bet Ori) is the Bayer Classification for the star. The Bayer Classification was created by Johann Bayer in 1603. The brightest star in the constellation is normally given the Alpha designation, there are exceptions such as Pollux which is Beta Geminorum.

The Id of the star in the Yale Bright Star Catalogue is HR1713. HIP24436 is the reference name for the star in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue. The Id of the star in the Henry Draper catalogue is HD34085.

Rigel has alternative name(s) :- bet Ori, bet Ori. In Arabic, it is known as Ar-Rijl.

Flamsteed designations are named after the creator, Sir John Flamsteed. Sir John named the stars in the constellation with a number and its latin name, this star's Flamsteed designation is 19 Orionis. The Flamsteed name can be shortened to 19 Ori.

BD number is the number that the star was filed under in the Durchmusterung or Bonner Durchmusterung, a star catalogue that was put together by the Bonn Observatory between 1859 to 1903. The star's BD Number is BD-08 1063.

More details on objects' alternative names can be found at Star Names .

Location of Rigel

The location of the supergiant star in the night sky is determined by the Right Ascension (R.A.) and Declination (Dec.), these are equivalent to the Longitude and Latitude on the Earth. The Right Ascension is how far expressed in time (hh:mm:ss) the star is along the celestial equator. If the R.A. is positive then its eastwards. The Declination is how far north or south the object is compared to the celestial equator and is expressed in degrees. For Rigel, the location is 05h 14m 32.27 and -08° 12` 05.9 .

Radial Velocity and Proper Motion of Rigel

Proper Motion

All stars like planets orbit round a central spot, in the case of planets, its the central star such as the Sun. In the case of a star, its the galactic centre. The constellations that we see today will be different than they were 50,000 years ago or 50,000 years from now. Proper Motion details the movements of these stars and are measured in milliarcseconds. The star is moving 0.50 ± 0.25 milliarcseconds/year towards the north and 1.31 ± 0.34 milliarcseconds/year east if we saw them in the horizon.

Radial Velocity

The Radial Velocity, that is the speed at which the star is moving away/towards the Sun is 17.80 km/s with an error of about 0.40 km/s . When the value is negative then the star and the Sun are getting closer to one another, likewise, a positive number means that two stars are moving away. Its nothing to fear as the stars are so far apart, they won't collide in our life-time, if ever.

Rigel Luminosity

Luminosity is the amount of energy that a star pumps out and its relative to the amount that our star, the Sun gives out. The figure of 62,722.64 that I have given is based on the value in the Simbad Hipparcos Extended Catalogue at the University of Strasbourg from 2012.

Physical Properties (Colour, Temperature) of Rigel

Rigel Colour and Temperature

Rigel has a spectral type of B8Ia. This means the star is a blue supergiant star. The star has a B-V Colour Index of -0.03 which means the star's temperature is about 11,122 Kelvin. The temperature was calculated using information from Morgans @ Uni.edu at being .

Rigel Radius

Radius has been calculated as being 54.78 times bigger than the Sun. The Sun's radius is 695,800km, therefore the star's radius is an estimated 38,114,280.69.km. If you need the diameter of the star, you just need to multiple the radius by 2. However with the 2007 release of updated Hipparcos files, the radius is now calculated at being round 61.18. The figure is derived at by using the formula from SDSS and has been known to produce widely incorrect figures.

Rigel Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes

Rigel has an apparent magnitude of 0.18 which is how bright we see the star from Earth. Apparent Magnitude is also known as Visual Magnitude. If you used the 1997 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -6.69 If you used the 2007 Parallax value, you would get an absolute magnitude of -6.93. Magnitude, whether it be apparent/visual or absolute magnitude is measured by a number, the smaller the number, the brighter the Star is. Our own Sun is the brightest star and therefore has the lowest of all magnitudes, -26.74. A faint star will have a high number.

Distance to Rigel

Using the original Hipparcos data that was released in 1997, the parallax to the star was given as 4.22 which gave the calculated distance to Rigel as 772.90 light years away from Earth or 236.97 parsecs. If you want that in miles, it is 518,319,592,554.

In 2007, Hipparcos data was revised with a new parallax of 3.78 which put Rigel at a distance of 862.87 light years or 264.55 parsecs. It should not be taken as though the star is moving closer or further away from us. It is purely that the distance was recalculated.

Using the 2007 distance, the star is roughly 54,566,974.26 Astronomical Units from the Earth/Sun give or take a few. An Astronomical Unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun. The number of A.U. is the number of times that the star is from the Earth compared to the Sun.

The star's Galacto-Centric Distance is 7,608.00 Parsecs or 24,814.51 Light Years. The Galacto-Centric Distance is the distance from the star to the Centre of the Galaxy which is Sagittarius A*.

Travel Time to Rigel

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A380736786,215,992.75
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.269754,174,833.94
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.54377,086,925.51
New Horizons Probe33,00017,534,999.11
Speed of Light670,616,629.00862.87

Variable Type of Rigel

The star is a pulsating Alpha Cygnus variable type which means that its size changes over time. The Variable Type is usually named after the first star of that type to be spotted. Rigel brightness ranges from a magnitude of 0.211 to a magnitude of 0.182 over its variable period. The smaller the magnitude, the brighter the star. Its variable/pulsating period lasts for 2.1 days (variability).

Source of Information

The source of the information if it has a Hip I.D. is from Simbad, the Hipparcos data library based at the University at Strasbourg, France. Hipparcos was a E.S.A. satellite operation launched in 1989 for four years. The items in red are values that I've calculated so they could well be wrong. Information regarding Metallicity and/or Mass is from the E.U. Exoplanets. The information was obtained as of 12th Feb 2017.

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Additional Rigel Facts and Figures

Visual Facts

Primary / Proper / Traditional NameRigel
Alternative NamesBeta Orionis, Bet Ori, bet Ori, Ar-Rijl, HD 34085, HIP 24436, HR 1713, 19 Orionis, 19 Ori, BD-08 1063, bet Ori
Spectral TypeB8Ia
Constellation's Main StarYes
Multiple Star SystemYes
Star Type very luminous Supergiant Star
GalaxyMilky Way
Absolute Magnitude -6.69 / -6.93
Visual / Apparent Magnitude0.18
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes
Right Ascension (R.A.)05h 14m 32.27
Declination (Dec.)-08° 12` 05.9
Galactic Latitude-25.25 degrees
Galactic Longitude209.24 degrees
1997 Distance from Earth4.22 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 772.90 Light Years
 236.97 Parsecs
2007 Distance from Earth3.78 Parallax (milliarcseconds)
 862.87 Light Years
 264.55 Parsecs
 54,566,974.26 Astronomical Units
Galacto-Centric Distance24,814.51 Light Years / 7,608.00 Parsecs
Proper Motion Dec.0.50 ± 0.25 milliarcseconds/year
Proper Motion RA.1.31 ± 0.34 milliarcseconds/year
B-V Index-0.03
Radial Velocity17.80 ± 0.40 km/s
Semi-Major Axis8326.00
Stellar Luminosity (Lsun)62,722.64
Brightest in Night Sky7th

Companions (Multi-Star and Exoplanets) Facts

Exoplanet CountNone/Unaware

Variable Star Details

Variable Star ClassPulsating
Variable Star TypeAlpha Cygnus
Mean Variability Period in Days2.075
Variable Magnitude Range (Brighter - Dimmer)0.182 - 0.211

Estimated Calculated Facts

Radius (x the Sun)61.18
Effective Temperature11,122 Kelvin

Sources and Links

SIMBAD SourceLink

Multi-Star System

The star has been identified as being a multi-star system, one in which there is at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. The stars may be of equal mass, unequal mass where one star is stronger than the other or be in groups orbiting a central point which doesn't necessarily have to be a star. More information can be found on my dedicated multiple star systems page. The source of the info is Simbad. The file is dated 2000 so any differences between this and any other source will be down to the actual source from where the information came from.

Proper Motion mas/yr
H.D. IdB.D. IdStar CodeMagnitudeR.A.Dec.SpectrumColourYear
34085-08 1063.0A0.30000-4.00000-2.00000B8Blue/White

Location of Rigel in Orion

Rigel Location in Orion

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

Orion Main Stars

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GabGamerYTThursday, 1st November 2018 3:25:03 PM
Rigel is constellation orionis luminous 100,000 sun (7th Brightest Night sky)
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