(covers information from several alternate timelines)
The Rigel system was an inhabited planetary system. The system consisted of a primary and at least twelve planets. The primary was named Rigel. Several of these planets were either suitable for colonization by or were the homeworlds of humanoid life-forms. An asteroid field was located 2 days away at impulse speed from Rigel XII. (TOS: "Mudd's Women", "The Doomsday Machine"; ENT: "Broken Bow")
In the mid-23rd century, the Rigel system was part of the most densely populated section of the Milky Way Galaxy. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine") The native species living in the system include the Rigelians of Rigel V, (TOS: "Journey to Babel") the similarly named Rigellians, (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) the Kalar of Rigel VII (TOS: "The Cage") and the Hill People of Rigel IV. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold") By the mid-23rd century, there were also Humans living in the Rigel system. (TOS: "Mudd's Women", "Shore Leave") The Rigelian hypnoid and Rigellian ox were native animal species to the Rigel system. (TAS: "Mudd's Passion"; TNG: "The Schizoid Man") Ratana trees were from this system. (DS9: "Rejoined")
The Barros Inn was known to be one of the wildest bars in the system. (DS9: "Rejoined") Rigelian chocolates and the Rigelian flame gem are other items from this system, as are the diseases Rigelian fever and Rigelian Kassaba fever. (TOS: "By Any Other Name", "Requiem for Methuselah", ENT: "Twilight", DS9: "Chimera") Moon over Rigel VII was a song with fairly simple lyrics, inspired by a natural satellite of Rigel VII. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
By the mid-22nd century, this system had been charted and explored by several species including the Klingons and the Vulcans. Both races knew it as Rigel. In 2151, the system became known to Humans as well, when Captain Jonathan Archer used Vulcan star charts to plot a course there. The Rigel system was the first star system visited by the Enterprise NX-01, the first Earth starship with the warp 5 engine, after it departed from the Sol system. The Rigel colony on Rigel X was a popular trade complex at the time, visited by numerous species. (ENT: "Broken Bow")
By the mid-2150s, Rigelians from Rigel V were visiting Earth. (ENT: "Home", "Affliction") In early 2155, the Rigelians participated in talks discussing their wish to join as a possible member in the Coalition of Planets along with Humans, Tellarites, Andorians, Coridans and Vulcans. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime")
In 2254, a landing party from the USS Enterprise was attacked by the native Kalar warriors on Rigel VII. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II") By the 24th century, the Kalar castles of Rigel VII had become tourist attractions. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
In 2266, several women on Rigel IV were murdered by Redjac. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold") During the same year, Harcourt Mudd, using the illegal Venus drug, attempted to sell Eve McHuron, Ruth Bonaventure and Magda Kovacs to lithium miners on Rigel XII. (TOS: "Mudd's Women")
In 2267, the Rigel system had a population in the millions. This system was threatened by the planet killer until the combined efforts of the starships USS Constellation and USS Enterprise destroyed the extragalactic doomsday weapon. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")
The Rigel system was located in the Kandari sector, a region of space in the Alpha Quadrant. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, production art; TNG: "Conspiracy" display graphic) The Rigel system was located between Sol and Argelius II (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold") near the star systems L-370 and L-374. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine") The system was located within 90 light years of the Sol system. (ENT: "Two Days and Two Nights")
The location of the Rigel system had been depicted in several Federation star charts. A large star chart depicted the location of Rigel in the Milky Way Galaxy in 2293. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, production art) In 2367, the location of Rigel was depicted on a tactical situation monitor in Captain Benjamin Maxwell's ready room on the USS Phoenix. (TNG: "The Wounded") One star chart depicted Rigel near Vega. This chart was displayed in astrometrics on USS Voyager in 2376. (VOY: "Child's Play")
|Rigel II • Rigel III • Rigel IV • Rigel V • Rigel VII • Rigel X • Rigel XII|
According to Startrek.com, Rigel was located in the Alpha Quadrant.  This is also confirmed in "The Explored Galaxy" star chart, where Rigel was located between the Tholian Assembly and Romulus. Both of which were identified in DS9: "The Search, Part II", "Call to Arms" as being located in the Alpha Quadrant. This chart was seen in several Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes set in the 24th century, from the year 2364 to 2370. These were: TNG: "Conspiracy", "The Measure Of A Man", "The Emissary", "The Mind's Eye", "The Game" and DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets", "Cardassians".
In the real world, the star Rigel, or Beta Orionis, was a star located 773 light years from the Earth in the constellation Orion While this constellation was seen on screen in TNG: "Family" and on a constellation star chart in the TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver". The Rigel in Star Trek was apparently not a star named by Humans, since Vulcans and Klingons used this name in their native languages and the location of the system was not known to Humans before it was learned from the Vulcan star charts in "Broken Bow".
According to the reference book The Worlds of the Federation (page 36), the Rigel system and the Orion system are one and the same. Rigel VIII being the homeworld of the Orion species. According to the book, Rigel II and Rigel IV were colonized by Humans. According to Star Trek Maps (Chart D), the Rigel system was located around the real star Beta Orionis. The chart also references Rigel VIII as the planet Orion.
According to the reference book Star Trek: Star Charts (pgs. 36, 45, 59, "United Federation of Planets II"), there were in fact two systems that were called the Rigel system. These were Beta Rigel and Beta Orionis.
- Beta Rigel was a star named by Earth astronomers for its perceived proximity to Beta Orionis. Beta Rigel was a spectral type A5V star with an absolute magnitude of 6.2. The Beta Rigel System was in fact located relatively close to the Sol system and was explored in the mid-22nd century. Of the ten planets in this system, four of them were classified as M class. In the mid-22nd century, the Beta Rigel system was a destination on the Vulcan space lanes. In 2151, the Enterprise visited this system on its maiden voyage. The system, in 2378, was a destination on the major space lanes, and the system's inhabited planets were Federation members.
- Beta Orionis also known as Rigel was a binary star system. Rigel A was a B class star with a magnitude of -7. Rigel B was a B class star. Beta Orionis was located 773 light years from the Sol system, in non-aligned space in the Beta Quadrant.