Epoch J2000.0 Equinox J2000.0
|Right ascension||23h 39m 20.852s|
|Declination||+77° 37′ 56.19″|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||3.22|
|Gamma Cephei A|
|U−B color index||0.94|
|B−V color index||1.03|
|Gamma Cephei B|
|Radial velocity (Rv)||8.8 km/s|
|Proper motion (μ)||RA: –47.96 ± 0.45 mas/yr
Dec.: 126.59 ± 0.40 mas/yr
|Parallax (π)||72.69 ± 0.41 mas|
|Distance||44.9 ± 0.3 ly
(13.76 ± 0.08 pc)
|Absolute magnitude (MV)||2.51|
|Period (P)||67.5 ± 1.4 yr|
|Semi-major axis (a)||1.467 ± 0.046"
(20.18 ± 0.66 AU)
|Eccentricity (e)||0.4112 ± 0.0063|
|Inclination (i)||119.3 ± 1.0°|
|Longitude of the node (Ω)||18.04 ± 0.98°|
|Periastron epoch (T)||1991.605 ± 0.031|
|Argument of periastron (ω)
|161.01 ± 0.40°|
|Gamma Cephei A|
|Mass||1.40 ± 0.12 M☉|
|Radius||4.79 ± 0.06 R☉|
|Gamma Cephei B|
|Mass||0.409 ± 0.018 M☉|
Gamma Cephei (γ Cep, γ Cephei), traditionally named Errai, Er Rai, and or Alrai, is a binary star system approximately 45 light-years away in the constellation of Cepheus. Gamma Cephei contains an apparent magnitude of 3.22. The visible part of the system is a stellar class K1III-IV orange subgiant star on its first ascent off the main sequence. It is about 6.6 billion years old (based on Fe/H metallicity). Since 1943, the spectrum of this star has served as one of the stable anchor points by which other stars are classified.
Gamma Cephei is the naked-eye star that will succeed Polaris as the Earth's northern pole star, due to the precession of the equinoxes. It will be closer to the northern celestial pole than Polaris around 3000 CE and will make its closest approach around 4000 CE. The "title" will pass to ι Cephei some time around 5200 CE.
The star has a companion star with a mass approximately 0.409 times that of our Sun. Gamma Cephei B is of stellar mass and is assumed to be of similar age to its primary. It is probably a red dwarf of class M4, 6.2 degrees of magnitude fainter than the K-type primary star.
Gamma Cephei's traditional name derives from the Arabic الراعي ar-rā‘ī, meaning "the shepherd". Confusingly, the star β Ophiuchi is sometimes also called Alrai, but it is more commonly known as Cebalrai or Kelb Alrai, meaning "shepherd's dog".
In Chinese, 紫微左垣 (Zǐ Wēi Zuǒ Yuán), meaning Left Wall of Purple Forbidden Enclosure, refers to an asterism consisting of γ Cephei, ι Draconis, θ Draconis, η Draconis, ζ Draconis, υ Draconis, 73 Draconis and 23 Cassiopeiae. Consequently, γ Cephei itself is known as 紫微左垣七 (Zǐ Wēi Zuǒ Yuán qī, English: the Seventh Star of Left Wall of Purple Forbidden Enclosure.), representing 右樞 (Shǎowèi), meaning The Second Imperial Guard or Minor Guard
A planet orbiting Gamma Cephei A was tentatively identified by a Canadian team consisting of Bruce Campbell, Gordon Walker and Stephenson Yang in 1988. Its existence was also announced by Anthony Lawton and P Wright in 1989. This would have been the first confirmed extrasolar planet and its ostensible discovery was based on the same radial velocity technique later used successfully by others. The claim was retracted in 1992 because the quality of the data was not good enough to establish discovery. In 2002, evidence of the planet was considerably strengthened by new measurements from Artie Hatzes and his collaborators at the McDonald Observatory.
(in order from star)
|b||≥1.60 ± 0.13 MJ||2.044 ± 0.057||902.9 ± 3.5||0.115 ± 0.058||—||—|
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- Hatzes, Artie P. et al. (2003). "A Planetary Companion to Gamma Cephei A". The Astrophysical Journal 599 (2): 1383–1394. arXiv:astro-ph/0305110. Bibcode:2003ApJ...599.1383H. doi:10.1086/379281.
- McDonald Observatory: Planet Search finds first planet orbiting close-in binary star
- A Planetary Companion to the Binary Star Gamma Cephei
- SolStation: Errai 2