Mintaka is the seventh brightest star in the constellation of Orion, and it is part of the three legendary stars which form the famous Orion's Belt asterism.
Key Facts & Summary
- Mintaka is designated as Delta Orionis, and it is the 73 brightest star in the night sky.
- It is located at around 1,200 light-years / 380 parsecs away from the Sun.
- Mintaka is the westernmost star in the asterism known as Orion's Belt. Out of the three stars forming the Belt, Mintaka is the smallest.
- The stars which form the Belt are Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, with Alnilam being a single star, while Alnitak and Mintaka being multiple star systems.
- There are more than three stars which form the Mintaka star system. The main stars are designated as Mintaka Aa1, Mintaka Aa2, and Mintaka Ab.
- Mintaka Aa1 is the primary star, and it is 190,000 times brighter than our Sun.
- It is a bright giant blue O-type star, with its spectral class being O9.5II.
- Mintaka has around 24 solar masses and approximately 16.5 solar radii. It is more than 30 times bigger than our Sun and two times smaller than Alnilam, the biggest star in Orion's Belt.
- Mintaka is also several times hotter than our Sun, having temperatures of around 29,500 K, while our Sun is at 5,778 K.
- The smallest star in Orion's Belt is also a fast-spinning star, having a rotational speed of 150 km / 93.2 mi per second.
- All of the stars in the Mintaka star system are believed to be of similar age. They are part of the Orion B1 Association – which is itself part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.
- This is a star forming region where most stars are younger than our Sun, at around 12 million years old.
- The second most massive and giant star in this system is Mintaka Ab.
- This star has 22.5 solar masses and 10.4 solar radii. It is more than ten times bigger than our Sun.
Mintaka Star for Kids
Mintaka is one of the three legendary stars which form the ancient asterism known as Orion's Belt. It is the westernmost star in this asterism, and its other colleagues are Alnilam (the most massive and biggest of the Belt) and Alnitak.
Just like Alnitak, Mintaka appears as a single star to the naked eye; however, multiple stars orbit one another in this system. At least five stars make up the Mintaka star system, namely Mintaka Aa1 (the primary star), Mintaka Aa2, Mintaka Ab (the second largest), Mintaka B, and HD 36485.
The primary star, Mintaka, is a bright blue giant star of spectral type O9.5II. It is more than 190,000 times more luminous than our Sun, and it has an apparent magnitude of 2.23.
Temperatures on Mintaka are at around 29,500 K, which means that it is 5.1 times hotter than our Sun (5,778 K). It is also a fast-spinning star, having a rotational speed of 150 km / 93.2 mi per second.
Mintaka Ab is the second brightest star and the second hottest, being around 63.000 times more luminous than the Sun, with temperatures at about 28.400 K, thus 4.9 times hotter. It is a subgiant star of spectral class B0IV, and it spins even faster than Mintaka Aa1, at 220 km / 136.7 mi per second.
Mintaka Aa2 is the third brightest star of the system, and the third hottest. It is 16.000 times more luminous than the Sun, with temperatures at around 25.600 K, thus it is 4.4 times hotter than our Sun. Mintaka Aa2 is a giant star of spectral type B1V and it is also the second-fastest rotating star, spinning with a speed of about 150 km / 93 mi per second.
HD 36485 is the fourth brightest star in the Mintaka system, and the fourth hottest. It is 3.300 times more luminous than our Sun, with temperatures reaching 18.400 K, thus it is 3.1 times hotter. HD 36485 is a main-sequence star with a spectral classification of class B.
Mintaka B is the faintest star of the system. Its surface temperatures are colder than our Sun's, around 5.324 K. Mintaka B is a 14th magnitude star.
All of the stars in the Mintaka star system formed around 12 million years ago in the Orion B1 Association – which is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. All of these stars are very young in comparison to our Sun.
Gravity pulled the swirling gas and dust from this rich molecular cloud, and when it reached the right temperatures, it resulted in the multiple stars which form the Mintaka star system.
Since this cloud was rich in materials, and of these stars have short lifespans. They will eventually explode as supernovas.
Fun Kids Facts About Mintaka
- In Arabic, Mintaka is known as "mantaqa." Some other names include Al Alkat – which means the Golden Grains or Nuts, or Al Mizan al H-akk – the Accurate Scale Beam.
- The Chinese know Mintaka Shen Su san – which means the Third Star of Three Stars. Three Stars is actually the Chinese name for the asterism we know as Orion's Belt.
- The Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris are said to have come from Orion's Belt and the star Sirius, to create humanity.
- The three pyramids in Giza are aligned as the three belt stars. The air shafts inside the pyramids point directly to the constellation of Orion.
- Recently, two large pyramids and a temple in Mexico were found to point towards Orion's Belt.
Size and Comparison
Mintaka is 2.400% more massive than our Sun, and it has around 1.650% of our Sun's radius. It is more than 30 times bigger than our Sun; however, it is two times smaller than Alnilam, the biggest star in Orion's Belt.
The second biggest star in the Mintaka system is Mintaka Ab. It is 2,250% more massive than our Sun, and has 1,040% of its radius, thus being 20 times bigger.
Mintaka Aa2 is 840% more massive than our Sun, and it has 650% of its radius. Thus, it is 13 times bigger. HD 36485 is 900% more massive, and it has 570% of our Sun’s mass. It is 11 times bigger.
What Color is Mintaka?
Mintaka is a bluish-white star, just like the other stars which form Orion’s Belt. It is classified as a giant blue star of spectral type O9.5II.
Is Mintaka a Supergiant?
Though Mintaka is more than 30 times bigger than our Sun, it is classified as a blue giant, rather than a supergiant star. Supergiant stars are more than 30 times bigger than our Sun.
How Many Stars Does Orion's Belt Have?
To the unaided eye, it appears that there are only three stars in Orion's Belt, namely Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. However, there are more than three stars here.
Alnilam is a single star, while Alnitak is comprised out of three stars, two of which are giant stars. On the other hand, Mintaka is a multiple star system, consisting of at least five stars, namely Mintaka Aa1 (the primary star), Mintaka Aa2, Mintaka Ab (the second largest), Mintaka B, and HD 36485.
Which is the Closest Star to us From Orion's Belt?
Mintaka is the closest star to our Earth from Orion's Belt, situated at 1,200 light-years. Alnitak is located at 1,260 light-years, while Alnilam is the farthest star in Orion's Belt, located at 1,975 light-years.
Are There Planets Around the Stars in Orion's Belt?
No planets seem to be around the stars in Orion's Belt. Alnilam appears as a single lonely star; however, Alnitak and Mintaka have several other stars orbiting around them, forming stellar systems. Even so, there are slight chances that planets may indeed be around these stars. We have yet to discover them.
Mintaka Star Notes
- Mintaka is the closest star to us from Orion’s Belt.
- This star is also the westernmost celestial object in the asterism.
- Mintaka is the smallest star in Orion’s Belt.
- The five stars forming the Mintaka star system are Mintaka Aa1 (the primary star), Mintaka Aa2, Mintaka Ab (the second largest), Mintaka B, and HD 36485.
- The brightest star is Mintaka Aa1, followed by Mitaka Ab, Mintaka Aa2, HD 36485, while Mintaka B is the faintest. The same order applies to their temperature levels as well, with Mintaka Aa1 being the hottest and Mintaka B, being colder even than our Sun.