Rigel or Beta Orionis, also called Kolar, was a multiple star system located in Federation space in the Beta Quadrant (Decipher RPG module: Worlds), in the Rigel sector and lying at the center of the Orion Neutrality Area near the Klingon Neutral Zone. The Rigel star system was located in the Coreward side of the Orion Arm of the galaxy, but had equal access to both sides of the Arm. In the late 23rd century, it lay almost exactly between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, with the Romulan Star Empire and The Triangle to Coreward (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge). It was situated approximately halfway between Sol and Qo'noS's system. It was the second brightest star in the Orion constellation (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
- Although Rigel is located at the center of the Orion Neutrality Area, the strong Federation presence there makes it unclear how much, if any, of the system is included. It seems likely that Orion-held parts are within the ONA, while Federation-held parts are not.
- Multiple versions of Rigel have been depicted in various sources. These are presented separately for clarity below. Please see the Appendix below for discussion.
The Rigel systemEdit
Spaceflight ChronologyEditThe Rigel system was home to 12 planets, extending over a distance of nearly 100 AU. Four of these worlds were habitable and supported life, while the other eight were uninhabitable (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology).
Star Trek Maps & The Worlds of the FederationEditThe Rigel system had a brightness of magnitude −7, 40,000 times brighter than Sol. It consisted of four stars, with twin giants and twin lessers (TOS novel: Prime Directive), though two were of particular interest: one a B class blue-white supergiant, and the other a smaller blue-white giant. Between them they had 13 planets, six of which were inhabited, and five of them Class M worlds. This was due to the system's wide habitable zone of orbits, and the protective Hakel radiation belt. Rigel VI and Rigel VII were a double planet system, in a trojan orbit. Two planets orbited the secondary star (ST references: Star Trek Maps, The Worlds of the Federation).
- Though Star Trek Maps and The Worlds of the Federation say 13 planets, they mention 14, possibly counting VI and VII as one. It is unclear if Rigel VI and Rigel VII are a double planet system orbiting a common center (making Rigel VI the massive "moon" seen around Rigel VII), or if they simply share the same orbital distance, with one in a Trojan orbit of the other. They are also depicted with a highly elliptic orbit.
FASAEditThe Rigel system consisted of three stars: the primary was Rigel A, while Rigel B and C orbited each other a great distance away, so far away that they counted as a separate system, Rigel BC. All three were blue-white stars, barely more than 100,000 years old, which was quite young by astronomical standards.
However, despite their young ages and being located in a region noted for being poor in planets, the Rigel system was actually incredibly rich in them, possessing 14 worlds with over half of them being habitable. However, these planets were far older than their parent star, with drilling samples of Rigel IV showing it to be 8.8 billion years old. This provoked speculation about the planets being moved to their current orbits, or that the Rigel suns were somehow created to replace an earlier star, or something stranger still. The furred Rigellians wouldn't explain, while the Orions forbade probes of the suns, apparently not seeing the point. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
- This mystery is explained in the FASA history, below. The FASA version of Rigel is largely based on that from Star Trek Maps, above.
Last Unicorn Games/DecipherEditLying at the center of the system, Rigel A was a blue-white B class supergiant. It was 60 times larger and 50,000 times brighter than Earth's Sun (Sol) and roughly 100 million years old. What most people, including many of its inhabitants, called "Rigel" was in fact only Rigel A. It was also known as "Kolar" to the Orions.
At a distance of 10–30 AU, Rigel A was surrounded by uninhabitable asteroids and protoplanets, which were a navigational hazard. Its nearest planet, Rigel I, orbited at a distance of 150 AU, five times greater than Neptune's distance from Sol. In all, Rigel A had 16 planets extending over a distance of 420 AU, or over 2 lightdays, with three of them evolving life and complex ecosystems. However, according to accepted astrophysics, Rigel A was not nearly old enough to have formed planets, let alone for them to have developed life. [See LUG/Decipher History below for a possible explanation]
- Some suggestions for this mystery appear in the Last Unicorn Games/Decipher history, below.
- Star Charts incorrectly states that Rigel is a binary star system in the text about Beta Rigel, though it is depicted as a trinary system on the map.
Planets in the systemEdit
- Different sources have given different depictions of the individual planets of Rigel, which agree to greater or lesser extents. Individual articles for each planet merge them where possible, or separate them necessary. Other names appear in brackets below.
- Star Charts, however, mirrors many of the Rigel planets mentioned in the television series—Rigel II, Rigel IV, Rigel V, and Rigel X—as planets of Beta Rigel, and leaves only Rigel VII and Rigel XII orbiting Beta Orionis. However, many other sources have left all these planets around Beta Orionis. As such, it is impossible to separate the Beta Rigel and Beta Orionis planets. In other continuities where they do not contradict, they are likely to be the same. Therefore, all the planets of the Beta Rigel system are included in the articles for the Rigel planets, not including the separate case of the planet also called Beta Rigel, which appears with the Beta Rigel system.
The planets of the Rigel system are:
- Rigel I (Deyirdar, Tugn)
- Rigel II (Atugn, Mokalar)
- Rigel III (Chelar, Volum)
- Rigel IV (Rigel Trading Planet, Zamiar)
- Rigel V (V'geln)
- Rigel VI (Nedasar, Sirk)
- Rigel VII (Aulia, Kolar, Orion)
- Rigel VIII (Botchok, Orion, Tavar)
- Rigel IX (Heitar, T'ap)
- Rigel X (Onot)
- Rigel XI (Pliu, Sanadar)
- Rigel XII (Egessemine)
- Rigel XIII (Lonakar)
- Rigel XIV (Govar)
- Rigel XV (Sheshar)
- Rigel XVI (Yagthar)
- Rigel BC-I (Avali)
- Rigel BC-II (Ugoan)
- FASA RPG sources and The Worlds of the Federation have Rigels I to XII orbiting Rigel A, and Rigel BC-I and Rigel BC-II orbiting Rigel BC, for a total of 14 planets, over half of them habitable. The TOS novel: First Frontier also says 14 planets, with 10 habitable ("inhabited" may be more appropriate). Last Unicorn Games/Decipher RPG sources meanwhile have Rigels I to XVI, 16 planets in total. Though not explicit, it is implied that Rigels I to XII orbit Rigel A, and XIII to XVI orbit Rigel B (Rigel XII appears to be furthest out from Rigel A, while Rigel XIII has a relationship to Rigel B. In comparison, Star Charts's Beta Rigel has 10 planets, with 6 inhabited.
The Hakel radiation belt shielded the system from Rigel A's potentially lethal ionizing radiation, allowing for the high number of Class M worlds. However, it also caused severe magnetic disturbances in front of it, near Rigel I, which caused damage to the automated mining equipment there (ST references: Star Trek Maps, The Worlds of the Federation, FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge).
The system had two asteroid belts, one between Rigels I and II, and the other beyond Rigel XII. Both were sparse and rocky. The innermost belt was mined by the miners of Rigel II. The outermost posed little danger to space travel except as minor nuisances to navigation. They had no particular value, and no pirates hid amongst them (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge).
- The Worlds of the Federation and Star Trek Maps show only the asteroid belt between Rigels I and II.
Inhabitants of the systemEdit
The Rigel system was one of the most populous in the Galaxy (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology), being home to some 11 billion people in the late 24th century, and a number of sentient races called one or another of its planets their homeworld. Their civilizations ranged from nomadic barbarism to high-tech paradises. It was also colonized by Humans and other races (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
It was home to at least seven intelligent species:
- Rigellians and their warrior-caste, the Kaylar, two primitive humanoid species
- Chelons or Chelarians, a sabre-toothed turtle-like species
- Orions, a yellow- and green-skinned humanoid species
- Rigelians, a humanoid race with four or five genders
- Rigelians, a silver-skinned humanoid race
- Rigelians and V'gelnians, two vulcanoid species
- Rigellians, a rodent-like race of wise, reclusive, master traders.
The Rigel system had been a galactic trade hub for millennia, with trade routes and contacts stretching over two quadrants. It also produced the greatest pirate fleet, the most profitable slave trade, and the most powerful crime syndicate in two quadrants. Despite a strong presence and long history of the Federation and Starfleet in the system, the criminal element was entrenched in the system. The range of cultures and civilizations made things easy to slip through the cracks (Decipher RPG module: Worlds). The system was well known for its trade, the mining industry, bureaucracy and cabaret entertainment (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology).
It was also the source of a number of diseases, namely Rigelian fever (TOS episode: "Requiem for Methuselah"), Rigelian Kassaba fever (TOS episode: "By Any Other Name"), Rigellian plague (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology), Rigellian blood-burn fever (FASA RPG module: The Federation), and Orion blood fever (FASA RPG module: A Matter of Priorities).
As a trade hub with a number of neutral worlds, Rigel was open to all. Some worlds of Rigel were Federation members (Decipher RPG module: Worlds), even founding members (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology), or colonized by Federation races. These formed the United Rigel Colonies and the Aggregation of Rigellian Systems, both Federation-member states (ST reference: Star Charts, TOS - Fortunes of War novel: Dreadnought!). Others were controlled by the Orions and remained neutral (Decipher RPG module: Worlds), under the Botchok Planetary Congress as part of the Orion Neutrality Area (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge). Both the Klingons and the Romulans kept secret bases hidden in the system. but on the whole it managed to stay mostly independent throughout Federation contact (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
Starbase 134 was located in the Rigel system, near Rigel VI, and constructed starships and shuttlepods (DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual). In the 2270s, the Rigel system possessed class 3 facilities for starship support (ST reference: Star Trek Maps).
Animals native to the systemEdit
- C'Tuka (an animal that can sense seismic vibrations) (TOS comic: "Worldsinger")
- Orion wing-slug
- Rigellian decapod (TOS comics: "Worldsinger", "Who is... Enigma?")
- Rigelian hypnoid (TAS episode: "Mudd's Passion")
- Rigellian ox (TNG episode: "The Schizoid Man")
- Rigelian winged raptor-wolf
- Rigelian ring serpent (STA novel: Oblivion)
- Teleraptor (Decipher RPG module: Creatures)
Over a billion years ago (circa 999,998,000 BCE, reference stardate −10,000,000/00), the worlds of Rigel III and IV were inhabited by a highly advanced spacefaring race known as the Shour. In the ten million years that followed, these planets produced at least three more native civilizations and were occupied by countless others.
The fourth civilized race to evolve on Rigel IV was the Masters, around 99,998,000 BCE (stardate −1,000,000/00), while Rigel was still young. An early understanding of philosophy and science led them to establish a mighty empire across the Orion Arm that lasted for over a million years. During this time, the race performed many experiments on races, interfered with the development of other civilizations and obliterated others.
They began an extensive program of terraforming on Rigel III, completed in 1,248,000 BCE (stardate −12,500/00), whilst they preserved Rigel IV as a memorial and workyard. Around 1,148,000 BCE (stardate −11,500/00), they began a process of refueling and cleansing the star Rigel A, enabling it to burn hotter and turn the inner worlds tropical and rejuvenate the outer worlds. The helium core was removed and used for other projects, such as the worlds of Rigel B and C, which were an earlier stellar engineering experiment of theirs. Later, around 998,000 BCE (stardate −10,000/00), the Masters were responsible for planting new and promising life forms on Rigel VII and VIII, and they advanced their pets into the species known as Rigellians to serve as custodians after they died out (though they destroyed everything). (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
Following this, the Rigellians opened up the system to all races for trade and development, and founded the Rigellian Trade Authority in 968,000 BCE (stardate −9700/00). Thousands of spacefaring races came to trade at Rigel, particularly at Rigel IV. However, the system had little defense, and dozens of these races also traded warfare and conquest, for the system's wealth and strategic location. For tens of thousands of years, control of the system or its planets passed through many hands and tentacles, until it became a mosaic of established, abandoned, destroyed and rebuilt settlements of many cultures. Evidence for all these goes back at least 500,000 years, and makes Rigel the greatest archaeological source for these ancient cultures. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge)
In 148,000 BCE, the star Rigel had begun to develop signs of instability, as predicted by the Rigellians long before. They rediscovered the stellar engineering technology of the Masters and drained the star of its helium ash and replenished its hydrogen atmosphere, enabling it to burn for another million years before it would need fixing again. (FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge)
- These modifications to Rigel should explain some of the discrepancies between its apparent age and the ages of its planets, as mentioned in FASA RPG module: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge.
- Also see: Masters (Rigellian)
- Also see: Rigellian (furred)#History
- Also see: Orion history#FASA History
Last Unicorn Games/Decipher historyEdit
By astrophysical estimates, Rigel was created in the explosion that formed the Orion Nebula.
The Rigel system was littered with the ruins, monuments, laboratories and starship wrecks of no less than twelve wide-reaching interstellar civilizations, along with strange anomalies and the mystery of its apparent age versus the ages of its planets.
According to ancient Orion records and observations of planetary ages and anomalies like the Rigel XIII superstring, an incredibly ancient race called the Architects were believed to have created the Rigel system around 50 million years before modern times, either by moving planets into their current orbits or by creating them from scratch out of cosmic debris. They were also thought to have seeded these worlds with life around 10 million years later. It was unknown who these Architects were, and it was speculated that they were a godlike race such as the Q, an ancient civilization like the Tkon, or even Orions from the far distant past or even the far future, using temporal manipulation to alter stellar and planetary evolution rates. Architect relics were thought to lie in the Orion Nebula, which lay within the Klingon Empire; the Klingons either did very little investigation, or reported very little about it (Decipher RPG module: Worlds).
- The ST references: Star Trek Maps, The Worlds of the Federation) state that Rigel was the 11th member of the Federation, joining in 2166. However, the Star Trek Maps chronology is difficult to align to the standard time-line; this may be circa 2191. It is also unclear which of the worlds of Rigel joined the Federation at this time. These are most likely the human colonies on Rigel II and Rigel IV, though other sources have given different histories for these, or one of the races of Rigellians.
In reference stardate 2118 (c. 2192), the circus of Vladimir Kossenko entertained at Rigel, as part of their tour of the Federation in the Galactic Cultural Exchange project (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology).
On stardate 1/9301.04 (c. 2250s), Klingon Admiral Kentin epetai-Kazu led a fleet consisting of over 100 warships in a surprise invasion of the Rigel system. The Orion Space Navy made no resistance, apart from a few scattered units that attacked and were quickly destroyed. Meanwhile, Federation ships were seized, though there were less of these than expected, perhaps due to Rigellian preparations. According to Kentin, their aim was not to occupy Rigel or the Orion Colonies, but to invade the Federation. However, it was over a year before they did so, and the Orions generously entertained the Klingons until they left. Hostilities finally broke out between the Klingon Empire and the Federation on stardate 1/9409.29, in the Four Years War.
When the Klingons finally retreated at the close of the war in stardate 1/98, they left Orion settlements throughout the system unharmed, despite the Year of Horror elsewhere, in an effort to make Rigellian Orions appear to be Klingon allies. A Starfleet force of 396 ships came to secure the system following the Klingon withdraw (FASA RPG modules: The Orions: Book of Common Knowledge, The Orions: Book of Deep Knowledge).
By the mid-24th century, the Rigel system's main claim to fame were two factors attributed to Rigel IV; the first were the humanoid appearing inhabitants who had a Vulcanoid biology and the second was Rigelian fever. (TOS novel: Catalyst of Sorrows)
The increased Federation presence in the Rigel system in the late 23rd century steadily limited criminal activities in the Rigel system. However, with the Borg invasions and the Dominion War, Starfleet was forced to pull away its assets, letting the underworld flourish once more. (Decipher RPG module: Worlds)
In 2371, Commander Benjamin Sisko expressed his fears of a Dominion attack on the Rigel system to his old friend Jadzia Dax. (DS9 novel: The Search) Sisko's fears would later be realized during the Dominion War. The Dominion invaded the system, but were pushed back by Starfleet. Cole of Section 31 claimed the only reason Rigel and the Rigel system remained in Allied hands was due to the sacrifice of New Beijing. (DS9 novel: Abyss)
In early 2375, a Starfleet battle group, including the USS Enterprise-E, defended the Rigel system from Cardassian forces, in the Battle of Rigel. Four ships were destroyed, while the Enterprise was able to limp to Starbase 133 (TNG novel: The Battle of Betazed, TTN novel: Taking Wing).
Although the system had three native species, by the 2260s Terran colonists outnumbered all three of them combined. Key planets for the empire in the Rigel system included Rigel II which was known as "the pleasure planet," Rigel III which was served as a manufacturing center and trans-shipment point, and Rigel VII which was heavily colonized by Terrans once the local Kaylar population had been enslaved (Decipher RPG module: Through a Glass, Darkly).
In one alternate timeline where Earth never joined the Coalition of Planets, the United Earth government was known to had been using political influences in the Rigel system in order to keep control of the Dilithium resources within it. This led to the Earth government supporting the inhabitants of Rigel IV in dominating the Chelon and later they supported the Kaylar in actions against the other two dominant species after peace talks emerged between them as well as the two races getting aggressive over Earth dominating their politics. By 2264, the United Earth agreed to stop further influences in the system in exchange for membership into the Interstellar Coalition. (ENT short story: "A Less Perfect Union")
Over many years and several ranges, several different versions of Rigel have been presented or referred to, each based off canonical mentions and appearances in the television series. In particular, the most complete descriptions have appeared in Spaceflight Chronology, The Worlds of the Federation, the FASA RPG, the Last Unicorn Games/Decipher RPGs, and Star Charts, and each offer similar but conflicting depictions of the Rigel system and its worlds. The differences range from minor details, measurements and classifications, to large scale depictions of planets and histories. Generally, they are consistent with the accepted astronomical picture of Rigel, at one time or another. At this and other Rigel system articles, information is presented separately for clarity and merged only where there is sufficient agreement. Notes and appendices discuss the specific differences. Depictions that best agree with the canonical television references are placed first, while those that strongly disagree are placed last and assumed to be inaccurate.
Given the number of Rigelian/Rigellian species and the large number of inhabited worlds, and the conflicting descriptions of these worlds, it is possible that there is more than one "Rigel system". For example, the system may actually be more of a star cluster than a single system, or there may be a Rigel sector, or some of the species called "Rigelian"/"Rigellian" are not actually from the system, and other misidentifications may have occurred. Three or four distinct Rigel systems have been given: Rigel A, Rigel BC (a companion to Rigel A, described as something of a sub-system), an unnamed fourth star, and Beta Rigel.
In Star Charts, author Geoffrey Mandel established that there are two "Rigel systems": Beta Orionis, the "true Rigel"; and Beta Rigel, a system in Federation space once mistaken for a member of Beta Orionis. Beta Rigel was likely created to solve the problem of how the Enterprise (NX-01) managed to travel the 773 light-years to Rigel in only 4 days at warp factor 4 in the ENT episode: "Broken Bow", by positing a much closer star instead. As a supposed companion of Rigel, this may in fact be the fourth star of Beta Orionis once postulated by astronomers. (Other possibilities, such as "Rigel" being a similar-sounding Klingon or local name, or the Vulcan star charts showing a much faster route, have been rendered moot by Star Charts and the Decipher RPG module: Worlds.)
However, far from solving any of the above issues, Star Charts mirrors many of the Rigel planets mentioned in the television series—Rigel II, Rigel IV, Rigel V, and Rigel X—as planets of Beta Rigel, and leaves only Rigel VII and Rigel XII orbiting Beta Orionis. However, only Rigel X is given any detail, while its Rigel VI is new (though, as a double planet, similar to other Rigel VIs and VIIs). Though not impossible, it would be an enormous coincidence that both systems had similar make-ups and the same inhabited planets. The first Pocket Books novel to specifically reference Beta Rigel was Star Trek: Destiny: Lost Souls, but the name was used for a planet, not a system.
For the purposes of this wiki, the Rigel issue is only further confused: instead of too many planets in one system, there are planets with too many parent systems. Many other sources have left all these planets around Beta Orionis. As such, it is impossible to fully separate the Beta Rigel and Beta Orionis planets. In merged continuities where they do not contradict, they are likely to be the same. Therefore, all the planets of the Beta Rigel system are included in the articles for the Rigel planets, not including the separate case of the planet also called Beta Rigel, which appears with the Beta Rigel system. It remains possible, however, that the planets listed in this article may not all orbit the same star.
The different versions of the Rigel system have implications for the Federation presence and membership there, depictions of worlds there, and descriptions and histories of races such as the Orions, the vulcanoid Rigelians, and the Kaylar.
Before the end of the publishing history of the Last Unicorn RPG, one of the books in development was going to be known as 'The Sky Pirates of Orion: The Rigel System'; however, this book was never published. For this reason, although the author has posted parts of the book on an RPG forum, it cannot be considered source material for Memory Beta. The material can be found in the following link: Sky Pirates of Orion: The Rigel System.