September 26, 2007

Pollux: The Twin's Secret

β Geminorum (more commonly called Pollux) is the head of the twin Pollux in the Gemini constellation. Pollux has a secret he has been hiding for millions of years though.

Pollux is the only star readily visible in the sky that has a confirmed companion (i.e. exoplanet). For thousands of years this has been a significant star and last year it was confirmed for a fact that Pollux has a companion star. So when you look at the head of the twin Pollux, you are looking directly at a confirmed solar system with orbitting planets.

A few interesting facts about Pollux:

  • Even though it has the "Beta" designation, it is actually brighter than α Geminorum, more commonly known as Castor.
  • Castor and Pollux are twins; however, the stars representing them couldn't be more different. Castor is a super hot white sextuple star system; Pollux is a yellow-orange giant.
  • Pollux is the only star readily visible in the night sky with a confirmed star system.