A special issue on the star Mintaka - December 21, 2015 -
Points of Interests
Inner Workings & Specifics
To start off Mintaka is an O type star, meaning it is the largest type of star out there that we know of. However Mintaka is only a Bright Giant, instead of a Supergiant which is the norm for O types. This is because Mintaka has a large enough mass (24M) and radius (16.5R) that it qualifies as a Supergiant, however the Helium to Carbon/Oxygen fusion it goes through is not a characteristic of a Supergiant. The luminosity of Mintaka is about 190,000L with a surface temperature of 29,500K, earning it its blue color. Currently Mintaka is the dominant star in a multiple star system containing six other stars.
Mintaka Through History
Even though it is about 1,200 light years away, Mintaka has been seeable to the naked eye for thousands of years, popping up through different cultures around the world in some way. Mintaka is most famous for being one of the three stars in Orion's belt of the Orion constellation. It's very name, "Mintaka" is a form of "belt" in arabic. Mintaka has also been known as one of the 28 Mansions of the Chinese constellations, and as one of the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem (which is the star Sirius).
Present & Future
Currently Mintaka is in the Main Sequence phase of its life, meaning it is producing a steady flow of energy (via fusion of helium to carbon/oxygen) outward in order to push the inward force of gravity back out. However after a very very long time of doing so the star will start to run out of fusion energy, and in a struggle will push the surface outward to greatly expand the star. This is very short lived however, and the outer layer will collapse inward very quickly, bundling up the last bit of energy to create a very large explosion known as a supernova. This great release of energy will create a single point of extremely dense amounts of gravity, creating a black hole and marking the end of the star's life
Being the 7th brightest star to us with the naked eye Mintaka has been known since antiquity. However the star was first measured by Henri-Alexandre Deslandres at the Paris Observatory, who discovered it was a "spectroscopic binary" which basically means the stars revolve around each other instead of one staying still and the other revolving. In 1904 it was then proved by Johannes Franz Hartmann that the orbit of the spectroscopic binary Mintaka is in is 5.7 days, thanks go her studies of photos taken at Potsdam Observatory.