Alnitak B is a class B giant star with a visual magnitude of 4.01. Much more recently, in 1998, the bright primary was found by a team from the Lowell Observatory to have a close companion; this had been suspected from observations made with the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer in the 1970s. They lie from 800 to 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds.
Unlike Alnitak Ab, which can only be detected spectroscopically and interferometrically, Alnitak B can be resolved. It was reported to be a double star by amateur German astronomer George K. Kunowsky in 1819. Alnitak has been known since antiquity and, as a component of Orion's belt, has been of widespread cultural significance. Zeti, mentioned in the contact case of Raphael Chacun.
The Zeta Orionis stars belong to the Orion OB1 association (subgroup OB1b) and are members of the Collinder 70 open cluster. Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. It orbits Alnitak A every 1,508.6 years. The star system is composed of Alnitak Aa – a blue supergiant of spectral type O9.5lab, Alnitak Ab – a blue subgiant of spectral type B1lV, and Alnitak B – a B-class blue giant star. Two contact cases refer to one or two planets that could be located in the vicinity of Alnitak: Nep-4, mentioned in the contact case of Oswald Gonzalez. According to Solara, the 'galactic' name for this star is RA.
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