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thaumaturge
2007-Feb-14, 08:08 AM
I am reading Bad Astronomy (the book) and, when Phil is talking about Polaris, he says that "it's really a multiple star consisting of at least six stars in orbit around each other." Is this really true? It's a really fascinating proposition. I have tried to find some more information online but I can only find some conflicting sources. For example, one site (http://www.seds.org/~spider/spider/Misc/alphaUMi.html) says it is a binary system and mentions "four more faint optical companions" that are "probably physically unrelated to Polaris." However, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Ursae_Minoris) says it is a trinary system and references an AAS paper documenting a Hubble image from 2006 (http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2006/02/). I guess that this more recent finding trumps the six-star system hypothesis? Or is it still possible to consider Polaris a "sexary" system?

I'd appreciate any insight into this! Thanks!