16 Cygni-B

(The Planet Project)


The circle shows the location of the class G double star 16 Cygni (in the constellation Cygnus). A small telescope shows a pair of stars 39 seconds of arc apart. The planet, one of the few to known to orbit within a binary system, belongs to the fainter of the two, 16 Cygni-B. With a mass at least 1.68 times that of Jupiter, the planet orbits 16 Cygni-B at a distance that averages 1.68 astronomical units (12 percent farther than Mars is from the Sun) with a period of 800 days, or 2.2 years. The orbit is quite eccentric, however; the planet comes as close as 0.52 astronomical units to the star (72 percent Venus's distance from the Sun) and then goes as far away as 2.8 astronomical units, a bit over half Jupiter's distance from the Sun. From 16 Cygni-B's planet system (and no one knows if there are any "earths"), the somewhat brighter component, 16 Cygni-A, would shine with the brilliance of our full Moon.


16 Cygni is a fifth (5.32) magnitude star in the northwest corner of Cygnus that is easily split in two with a small amateur telescope to reveal two very sun-like stars 39 seconds of arc apart. The brighter, sixth magnitude (5.96) component, which at 5750 Kelvin is only 30 degrees cooler than our Sun, is about 60 percent more luminous as a result the system's more advanced age of 8 billion years. The fainter (sixth magnitude, 6.20), about which the planet revolves, though at 5770 Kelvin (10 Kelvin cooler than the solar surface), is also a bit (30 percent) brighter, implying from evolutionary theory that each contains slightly more than a solar mass. Though no orbit has been determined, it is clear that the stars are a pair, as they are at the same distance and move through space together. At minimum, they are 840 astronomical units apart, which would make them take at least 17,000 years to go around each other.

Cygnus has another star with a planet, HD 188753.

See 16 Cygni in the context of the Summer Triangle.