Vega (α Lyr, α Lyrae, Alpha Lyrae) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, the fifth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus?. It is a relatively close star at only 25 light-years from Earth, and, together with Arcturus? and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun's neighborhood.
Vega was the northern pole star around 12,000 BCE and will be so again around the year 13,727 when the declination will be +86°14'. Vega was the first star other than the Sun to be photographed and the first to have its spectrum recorded. It was one of the first stars whose distance was estimated through parallax measurements. Vega has served as the baseline for calibrating the photometric brightness scale, and was one of the stars used to define the mean values for the UBV photometric system.
Vega is only about a tenth of the age of the Sun, but since it is 2.1 times as massive its expected lifetime is also one tenth of that of the Sun; both stars are at present approaching the midpoint of their life expectancies. Vega has an unusually low abundance of the elements with a higher atomic number than that of helium.8 Vega is also a suspected variable star that may vary slightly in magnitude in a periodic manner. It is rotating rapidly with a velocity of 274 km/s at the equator. This is causing the equator to bulge outward because of centrifugal effects, and, as a result, there is a variation of temperature across the star's photosphere that reaches a maximum at the poles. From Earth, Vega is being observed from the direction of one of these poles.
Based on an observed excess emission of infrared radiation, Vega appears to have a circumstellar disk of dust. This dust is likely to be the result of collisions between objects in an orbiting debris disk, which is analogous to the Kuiper belt in the Solar System. Stars that display an infrared excess because of dust emission are termed Vega-like stars.Irregularities in Vega's disk also suggest the presence of at least one planet, likely to be about the size of Jupiter, in orbit around Vega.
Vega in Space Opera:
- Foundation? (1951), first novel in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Vega was the capital of the Vega Province in the Galactic Empire, one of the wealthiest provinces in the entire Galaxy. Until the revolt of the Anacreon? Prefect, it traded with Terminus?, capital of the Foundation. Salvor Hardin, the first mayor of Terminus City, considered the threat of being cut off from Vega to be one of the gravest perils faced by the nascent Foundation. One of the commodities Vega exported was tobacco, of notably high quality.
- Cities in Flight, (1955–1962), series of novels by James Blish?. The Vega system is home to a civilization Blish names the Vegan Tyranny, which is blocking mankind's expansion into the galaxy. To fulfill their manifest destiny, men must defeat the Tyranny. The series' reflection of recent (from the vantage of 1955) earthly events, and the fascistic nature of the Vegan Tyranny, exhibit Blish's pessimistic view of the cyclic nature of history, as influenced by his reading of Spengler's The Decline of the West. Blish later recycled these ideas in his novelization of "Tomorrow is Yesterday?" (1967), an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series?.
- "The Cage?" (1965; aired 1988), rejected pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series written by Gene Roddenberry? and directed by Robert Butler, as part of the film, television, and print franchise originated by Gene Roddenberry. The USS Enterprise is traveling to Vega Colony to arrange care for casualties of the hostilities on Rigel VII?, when it receives a distress transmission broadcast by a scientific expedition that has vanished on Talos IV?. A landing party beams down; the Talosians capture Captain Christopher Pike and plan to breed him with Vina, an expedition survivor, to create a race of slaves. Cooler heads prevail.
- "Mirror, Mirror?" (1967), episode of Star Trek: The Original Series written by Jerome Bixby? and directed by Marc Daniels?. This episode has a transporter mishap swapping Captain Kirk and his companions with their evil counterparts in a parallel universe. In the so-called Mirror Universe, the ISS Enterprise is a ship of the Terran Empire, a dominion as evil as the United Federation of Planets is benevolent. A horrified Kirk learns that his doppelgänger is guilty of multiple atrocities, including the massacre of 5000 human colonists colonists on the planet Vega IX?.
- Space Battle in the Vega Sector (Raumschlacht im Wega-Sektor), Mutants in Action (Mutanten im Einsatz), The Secret of the Time Vault (Das Geheimnis der Zeitgruft), and The Fortress of the Six Moons (Die Festung der sechs Monde) (1962), installments 10-13 of the Perry Rhodan? series of space-opera pulp novelettes, written by Walter Ernsting? as by Clark Darlton, by Karl-Herbert Scheer? as by K. H. Scheer, and by Kurt Mahr?. In these installments of the long-running English version of the (originally German) series, Rhodan comes to the aid of the inhabitants of Ferrol?, one of Vega's 42 planets, who are enmeshed in a space war between the reptilian Topides? and the decadent Arkonides?. On Rofus? (Vega IX), mutants help Perry gain control of a Topide battleship. His next exploit is to enter the Time Vault and discover the secrets of the methuselan inhabitants of Vega X?. The battle against the Topides continues among the six moons of Vega XL?, until finally Rhodan tricks his enemies into an "attack" on the Capella system in which they transit directly to the interior of the star itself.
- Demon Princes? (1964–1981), series of five novels written by Jack Vance. In Vance's Oikumene universe?, Vega is one of the three principal centers of human civilization (together with the Earth and Rigel). It has three uninhabitable inner planets and three habitable abecedarian planets: Padraic, Mona, and Noaille are inhabited. The others are Aloysius?, Boniface? and Cuthbert?.
- Hyperion? (1989) and The Fall of Hyperion? (1990), the first two novels in the Hyperion Cantos written by Dan Simmons?. Martin Silenus, the Poet of the Hyperion tales, survives tortured formative years growing up in the ambit of the marginally effective Rifkin Atmospheric Protectorate on Heaven’s Gate?, "a minor world circling the star Vega ... a poisonous world with, however a farcaster connection to Sol System ...
- "One Moment of Humanity?" (1976), episode of the television series Space: 1999? written by Tony Barwick? and directed by Charles Crichton?. When the Moon intrudes into the sphere of influence of the planet Vega, a deputation of Vegans, beautiful to behold, arrives at Moonbase Alpha to remonstrate, and ends by kidnapping two Alphans to the Vega system—abetted by telepathic ensnarement and Positronic Transfer. It turns out that the Vegans are androids, Vega is an artificial paradise planet and a prison, and the Alphans are able to liberate a human population that has been enslaved by the robots.
- Babylon 5? (1993–1998), television series created by J. Michael Straczynski. The Vega Colony? is an outpost world of the Earth Alliance in the Vega star system, which hosts at least six other planets. Vega Colony appears frequently in the series as a space voyage destination and as the location of a medical center; the ice mines on Vega VII? were raided for their explosives by the mad bomber Robert Carlson.
- Traveller? (1977), role-playing game designed by Marc Miller? and published by GDW. In this wide-ranging game the players' skills, tasks, gear, ships, and worlds are all built from tables using dice as a randomizing element. The worlds display a wide spectrum of conditions, from barren planetoid moons to large water worlds, from uncolonized territory to planets with tens of billions of people. The Vegan system governs an autonomous region within the Imperium several parsecs in radius, centered on the star Vega.
- Wing Commander? (1990), computer game designed by Chris Roberts and published by Origin Systems. The player takes the role of a nameless pilot aboard the TCS Tiger's Claw, a Bengal-class Strike Carrier. He quickly rises through the ranks of the flight wing, and eventually leads a strike on the Kilrathi High Command starbase in the Venice system. This action is called the Vega Campaign, since it all takes place in a region of the galaxy known as the Vega Sector whose "sector star" is Vega.
- Frontier: Elite II? (1993) and Frontier: First Encounters? (1995), computer games written by David Braben et al. The Vega system is one of the biggest tourist traps in the Federation thanks to its jungle planet Tracy's Haven?, famous for dramatic scenery and dangerous wildlife. While it is a politically stable system, Vega nonetheless maintains a laissez faire policy towards contraband: Goods banned elsewhere (such as live animals and weapons) find a lively market here, with the only proscribed lines of business being slaves, narcotics, and nerve gas.
- Escape Velocity (1996), computer game by Ambrosia Software. The Vega System is the site of a major fuel refinery, Enyo Fuel Refinery.
- Escape Velocity Nova? (2002), computer game developed and published by Ambrosia Software. The Vega System contains the planet Las Vegas?. Unlike its terrestrial namesake, the planet is conservative and austere.
- Pirate Galaxy? (2009), MMOG developed by Gustaf Stechmann and published by Splitscreen Studios. Players operate spaceships, explore various planets, mine minerals from orbit, and fight other players and computer enemies in planetary combat. The first-time player starts off on the nearly forgotten planet Kalebesh? in the Vega system as a smuggler, learning the rudiments of the game and getting his first missions, which eventually lead him to the world Axiom?. When the player proves his mettle, he proceeds via stargate to the Antares system where he pursues bigger and better adventures.
- Known Space. Vega IV is a gas giant with two moons.
- FreeSpace 2? (1999), combat simulation computer game designed by Dave Baranec et al, and published by Volition, Inc. When the brutal Shivans invade, the Terrans join with their erstwhile rivals the Vasudans to form the Terran Vasudan Alliance (ratified by the Beta Aquilae Convention). Vega starts out as a Terran colony, but is an early victim of the first Shivan invasion—requiring that the node connecting it to Capella be collapsed as a defensive measure.