61 Cygni A

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61 Cygni A
Stellar characteristics
Right ascension (Epoch J2000)21h 08m 52.1s
Declination (Epoch J2000)+38° 56' 51.0"
Spectral typeK3.5-5.0 Ve
Distance from Sol11.4 ly
Other designationsHR 8085, Gl 820 A, Hip 104214, HD 201091, BD+38 4343, SAO 70919, FK5 773, LHS 62, Struve 2758 A, ADS 14636 A.
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61 Cygni was christened the "Flying Star" in 1792 by Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826) for its unusually large proper motion. In 1830, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve (1793-1864) made the first measurements of the star as a binary system. It is now known that 61 Cygni A and B orbit each other at an "average" distance (semi-major axis) of 86.4 times the Earth-Sun distance, or about 86 AUs -- which is more than twice Pluto's orbital distance in the Solar System. 61 Cygni was the first star system to have its distance to Earth successfully calculated by Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) using trigonometric parallax and the diameter of the Earth's orbit around the Sun in 1838. Smaller and dimmer than Sol, the stars are barely visible with the naked eye.

61 Cygni A is a orange-red main sequence dwarf star of spectral and luminosity type K3.5-5.0 Ve. It has about 70 percent of Sol's mass[1], 72 percent of its diameter[2], and about 8.5 percent of its luminosity. The star system appears to be about 79 percent as enriched as Sol with elements heavier than hydrogen ("metallicity"), based on its abundance of iron. Dust has been detected around in this binary system[3]. Stars A and B may be older than Sol, because they do not rotate rapidly and the system exhibits moderately high U,V,W velocities in their galactic orbital motion[4].

61 Cygni A seems to be a variable star. It has been given the variable star designation V1083 Cygni as well as the New Suspected Variable designation of NSV 13543. The star and its stellar companion B have a highly elliptical orbit (e= 0.40) that swings them between 51.7 and 121.0 AUs apart in an orbit that lasts about 722 years[5].

Accounting for infrared heating, the distance from 61 Cygni A where an Earth-type planet would be "comfortable" with liquid water is centered around only 0.39 AU -- around Mercury's orbital distance in the Solar System. At that distance from the star, such a planet would have an orbital period of about 106 days -- less than a third of an Earth year.

(Boilerplate from SolStation.com)


  2. Johnson and Wright, 1983, page 699
  3. Backman et al, 1986; and Kuchner et al, 1998
  4. Ken Croswell, 1995, pp. 253-4
  5. Frederick Jerrold or "Jerry" Josties, 1980; in the Fourth Catalog of Orbits of Visual Binaries, Worley and Heintz, 1983