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Binary Star

Binary star systems, Binary stars, distance, centuries, masses

Deeper web pages:

>  Classification of Binary Star Systems

>  Interacting Binary Systems

>  Importance of Binary Stars to Astronomy

Binary Star, two stars that are bound to each other by gravity and orbit about a common center of mass. Binary star systems are quite common and the pairing of stars appears to be random in most cases. Astronomers estimate that approximately one-fourth of the visible stars belong to a binary system. The time it takes for one star to orbit the other can range from hours to centuries depending on the distance between the two stars and their masses. Some binary pairs, called interacting binary systems, are so close that they exchange material. Binary stars are very useful to astronomers because they are the only stars of which astronomers can directly determine mass.

Contributors

Mammana, Dennis L., B.S., M.S.

Resident Astronomer, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Author of "Other Suns. Other Worlds?", "The Night Sky: An Observer's Guide", and "Star Hunters".



Article key phrases:

Binary star systems, Binary stars, distance, centuries, masses, gravity, cases, time, material, hours

 
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