p Eridani (6 Eri, DUN 5) is a binary star system in the constellation of Eridanus (the River) whose distance is approximately 26 light-years. It was found to be a double star in December 1825 by James Dunlop in Australia at his home at Paramatta, now spelt Parramatta.
p Eridani is a southern binary star system that lies about 1.1 degrees north of the brilliant bluish coloured star, the 1st magnitude southern star Achernar. When "p" was first found by James Dunlop, he adequately describes this bright and fairly wide pair as double (both of the small 6th magnitude). He further went on to say of the telescopic appearance of the system:
A beautiful double star; both stars white; the preceding a little dusky. I cannot say which of the stars is larger; perhaps the following, if there be any difference. The distance is about equal to one diameter of the following star, which I estimate at about 2½ seconds.
Since Dunlop's discovery, the stars have significantly widened, and now both stars are easily visible in small telescopes.
We know today it among the stars that are reasonably close to the Sun, which is currently is estimated to lie about 25.5 ± 0.4 light-years from the Sun. The system consists of two visible components that orbit each other in a wide orbit with relatively high eccentricity.
p Eridani in Space Opera
- In the Revelation Space? fiction series, the system harbours a life supporting planet named Ararat?. Much of the book Absolution Gap? takes place within the system.
- In Known Space the Pierin inhabited/inhabits many systems in the vicinity of p Eridani and planet Canyon (Warhead) orbits p Eridani A.
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