Castor (α Geminorum)
The second brightest star in the → constellation → Gemini. This star has the identifier "alpha," but it is fainter than β Geminorum (→ Pollux). Castor was known as a main sequence, blue star of magnitude 1.98 and → spectral type A1. However, it is actually a → gravitationally bound family of six stars. The two brightest of the six, Castor A and Castor B, revolve around one another over a period of about 445 years. Castor A, the brighter of the two, is magnitude 1.9, while its companion is 3.0. Castor A is of spectral type A1 V and Castor B is Am. They are hotter than the Sun and about three times more massive, and lie 51 → light-years from Earth. Castor A and B are orbited by a third star called Castor C. It's a 9th magnitude → red dwarf (dMe1) and lies about one arc minute to the south. Castor C is about 1,000 → astronomical units from the bright pair and takes 14,000 years to orbit around them. Each of the three is a → spectroscopic binary making Castor a → sextuplet. Castor C is a → binary star of red dwarf stars a little more than half the size of the Sun. They revolve around one another evry 19 hours. The companions of Castor A and B are also smaller dwarf stars.
In Gk. mythology, Castor and → Pollux were twin heroes called the Dioscuri. Castor was the son of Leda and Tyndareus, Pollux the son of Leda and Zeus. They were great warriors and were noted for their devotion to each other. After Castor was killed by Lynceus, Pollux implored Zeus to allow his brother to share his immortality with him. Zeus created the constellation Gemini in their honor.