Cih is the central star of Cassiopeia's famous 'W'
shape. Despite its 'gamma' designation, it outshines both Schedar and Caph, the Alpha and Beta stars of its home constellation. This fact is due to its variable magnitude: the star has brightened considerably over time (it has reached first magnitude within the last century, though its apparent brightness at present has lessened slightly to +2.2).
At the heart of this multiple system is a luminous blue
star, highly volatile in nature. Its habit of casting rings of matter out into space causes the variation in its brightness, and also makes it the prototype for a class of stars showing similar properties, the Gamma Cassiopeiae variables. The intense radiation emitted by the star lights up nearby interstellar material, creating a rippling shroud of light known as the Gamma Cassiopeiae Nebula.
In a very close orbit around the main blue star is a tiny companion at a distance of a little under two Astronomical Units (and therefore barely more distant from the primary star than Mars is from the Sun). At least one other companion star also orbits the primary, but at a much greater distance than the close companion. This outlying member of the system is a bright yellow dwarf about 370 AU from the main star.