Procyon (α CMi, α Canis Minoris, Alpha Canis Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor. To the naked eye, it appears to be a single star, the seventh brightest in the night sky with a visual apparent magnitude of 0.34. It is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main-sequence star of spectral type F5 IV–V, named Procyon A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA, named Procyon B. The reason for its brightness is not its intrinsic luminosity but its closeness to the Sun, it lies at a distance of just 11.46 light-years (3.51 parsecs), and is therefore one of our nearest stellar neighbours. Its closest neighbour is Luyten's Star, about 1.12 ly (0.34 pc) away, and the latter would appear as a visual magnitude 2.7 star in the night sky of a hypothetical planet orbiting Procyon.
Procyon A is bright for its spectral class, suggesting that it is a subgiant that has nearly fused its core hydrogen into helium, after which it will expand as "burning" moves outside the core. As it continues to expand, the star will eventually swell to about 80 to 150 times its current diameter and become a red or orange color. This will probably happen within 10 to 100 million years.
Like Sirius_B, Procyon's companion is a white dwarf that was inferred from astrometric data long before it was observed.
At 0.6 solar masses, Procyon B is considerably less massive than Sirius B; however, the peculiarities of degenerate matter ensure that it is larger than its more famous neighbor, with an estimated radius of 8,600 km, versus 5,800 km for Sirius B.516 With a surface temperature of 7,740 K, it is also much cooler than Sirius B; this is a testament to its lesser mass and greater age.
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In Space Opera
- A Gift from Earth (1968), Known Space novel written by Larry Niven. We Made It, a planet in orbit around Procyon A, got its name because the first colony ship there crash-landed.
- Terran Trade Authority? (1978–1980), novels by Stewart Cowley?. Procyon is orbited by three planets: Procyon II, named Sisyphus?, is a barely habitable mining world.
- Star Control II? (1992), computer game developed by Toys for Bob and published by Accolade. Procyon II? is the homeworld of the Chenjesu? species, and the adopted homeworld of the robotic Mmrnmhrm?.
- Frontier: Elite II? (1993) and Frontier: First Encounters? (1995), computer games written by David Braben? et al.. Procyon is represented as an uninhabited, worldless binary star system.
- Escape Velocity, computer game developed and published by Ambrosia Software. System of planet Plateau.
- Escape Velocity Nova? (2002), computer game developed and published by Ambrosia Software. The Procyon system begins the game uninhabited but is connected to four other systems. A minor mission string terraforms one of its planets into the world Nirvana?, which subsequently becomes a major hub in Federation? space.
- Star Trek: Star Charts? (2002),15 fictional reference book by Geoffrey Mandel?. The Andorians? are a fictional race of humanoid extraterrestrials created by D. C. Fontana for the Star Trek universe. According to Mandel's reference book they are native to the icy M-class moon Andoria? (also called Andor), which orbits the blue, ringed gas giant Procyon VIII?.
- Azati Prime? (2004), episode of Star Trek: Enterprise? written by Rick Berman?, Brannon Braga?, and Manny Coto? as part of the film, television, and print franchise originated by Gene Roddenberry?. The Procyon system is the location of the far-future Battle of Procyon V, a Federation victory in a war against an alien species known as the Sphere Builders?.
- Halo Wars? (2009), video game set in the Halo universe?, developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. Part of the game is set on the planet Arcadia?, a fictional world in the Procyon planetary system.
- Starflight - The Lost Colony? (2010), computer game in the Starflight universe? developed and published by Electronic Arts. The planet Procya? in the Procyon system is the homeworld of the Empire's worst enemy, the Procyon Expanse?.
- Has a planet in TV-series Space: Above and Beyond.