Capella (α Aurigae, α Aur, Alpha Aurigae, Alpha Aur) is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga, the eleventh brightest star in the night sky and the third brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus? and Vega. Although it appears to be a single star to the naked eye, it is actually a star system of four stars in two binary pairs.
The first pair consists of two bright, large type-G giant stars, both with a radius around 10 times the Sun's, in close orbit around each other. These two stars are thought to be cooling and expanding on their way to becoming red giants.
The second pair, around 10,000 astronomical units from the first, consists of two faint, small and relatively cool red dwarfs. The Capella system is relatively close, at only 42.2 light-years (12.9 pc) from Earth.
Capella in Space Opera:
- "Friday's Child?" (1967), episode of Star Trek: The Original Series? written by D.C. Fontana?, as part of the film, television, and print franchise originated by Gene Roddenberry. Action takes place on Capella IV?.
- BattleTech? (1984), wargame and related products launched by The FASA Corporation. Capella is the former governing system of the Capellan Confederation? Successor State.
- Frontier: Elite II? (1993) and Frontier: First Encounters? (1995), computer games written by David Braben et al. Capella has many moon-based colonies and space stations orbiting the brown dwarf nearest to the primary star. Despite having several starports, this system has a population of less than 10,000 people.
- Escape Velocity (1996), computer game by Ambrosia Software. The Capella system is a fairly major trade hub in the Northeastern Confederation.
- FreeSpace 2? (1999), combat simulation computer game designed by Dave Baranec et al, and published by Volition, Inc.. Capella is one of the core systems of the Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance? and is home to over 300 million Terrans. It is invaded by Shivan forces, and the star itself is destroyed.