(binary, binary system)
(system of two stars co-orbiting)
A binary star is a pair of stars that orbit each
other. Double star means the same thing except
that it also includes stars that are not orbiting
and not close together but happen to be on the
same line of sight from Earth, referred to as apparent binary stars.
Binary (or more) star systems are said to be common:
the best number I've found is that roughly third of
all star systems have two or more stars.
They are extremely useful in the study of stellar physics, both
to use the orbital dynamics for stellar parameter determination,
and for those close enough to interact further,
giving additional situations to observe,
to infer and test the physics of stellar structure.
A system can have three or more stars. The term
multiple star system is sometimes used for this case,
and the phrase higher-order multiple star system is sometimes used.
A common classification of binary stars is based on the method by which
they were determined to be binary:
- visual binary - separate stars can be seen or photographed.
- eclipsing binary - a periodic variation in luminosity suggesting a star passing in front of its companion.
- spectrum binary - a star whose spectrum looks like the combined spectrum of two stars.
- astrometric binary - measurement of the star's position in the sky over time suggests an orbit-like movement around an unseen companion.
- spectroscopic binary - measurement of the spectrum over time shows an apparent Doppler shift signifying the type of radial motion that orbiting a companion would produce.
Another classification is based upon how close
they are and how much they interact:
- compact binary - small orbits: one criteria is that they rotate in five days or less.
- close binary star - similar meaning: close enough to consider their cross-influence and interaction.
- detached binary - sufficiently distant that the stars are (basically) spherical.
- semidetached binary - sufficiently close that one of the stars transfers mass to the other, but not touching.
- contact binary - touching; at minimum, both stars "stretched" by gravity to a contact point.
A binary star's mass ratio (μ) is the ratio
of the two masses, i.e., 1 for stars of equal
mass. When the total mass can also be determined,
e.g., from the orbital period and size,
the mass of each star is evident.
Binary stars generally have similar composition
(as shown by their spectra),
as if they were formed together.
Binaries formed together are known as primordial binaries,
another sign being aligned rotation axes.
A capture requires the coincidence of stars passing close to each other,
plus something to change their velocity, such as tidal forces
between them (i.e., tidal-capture binaries).
The "close pass" is more likely in areas with a very high
density of stars such as the center of globular clusters or galaxies.
Given the large range of distances between the stars and the
different sizes/spectral classes of the individual stars,
binary stars show a wide variety and interactions between them
produce characteristics unseen in non-binary stars.
- barium star - a star showing unexpected barium absorption lines, typically interpreted as a red giant that previously received mass from a companion carbon star.
- X-ray binary (XRB) or binary X-ray system - includes an accreting neutron star or black hole, whose high gravitational potential energy provides the energy to produce X-rays (through shock). With a strong magnetic field, it might be an X-ray pulsar. These may be low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXB), intermediate-mass X-ray binaries (IMXB), or high-mass X-ray binaries (HMXB) according to the mass of the companion star to the BH/neutron-star. Some are X-ray bursters, with bursts thought to stem from changing levels of accretion, such a transient termed an X-ray nova.
- VV Cephei systems - (like VV Cephei) consisting of a giant star and a hot star forming a long-period, interacting eclipsing binary.
- ζ Aurigae systems - (or Zeta Aurigae systems, like the star ζ Aurigae) are analogous to VV Cephei systems but with a different class of giant.
- post-common envelope binary.
The commonly-used system for referring to the individual stars of a
binary/multiple star system are indicated by following the name
with "A" for the brightest, "B" for the second brightest, then "C"
and so on.
For example, the two stars making up Sirius are termed
"Sirius A" and "Sirius B".
If two are very close and a third is distant, the two
close stars might use lower-case suffixes, i.e., "Aa" and "Ab",
with the further member called "B".
(star type,binary stars,double stars)
Aitken Double Star Catalogue (ADS)
Black Widow Pulsar (B1957+20)
Burnham Double Star Catalogue (BDS)
black hole binary (BHB)
black hole merger
binary neutron star (BNS)
candidate companion (CC)
double-line spectroscopic binary
globular cluster (GC)
Guide Star Catalog (GSC)
gravitational wave (GW)
GW detection (GW)
minimum mass (m sin i)
post-common envelope binary (PCEB)
proper motion (PM)
Hulse-Taylor Binary (PSR B1913+16)
pulsar timing array (PTA)
radial velocity (RV)
Rossiter-McLaughlin effect (RM effect)
Catalogue of Southern Double Stars
stellar population synthesis (SPS)
stellar distance determination
stellar parameter determination
transit timing variations (TTV)
turn-off point (TO)