- binary star
a system of two stars that revolve about their common center of mass. Also called binary, binary system.[1875-80]
* * *Pair of stars in orbit around a common centre of gravity.Their relative sizes and brightnesses and the distance between them vary widely. Perhaps half of all stars in the Milky Way Galaxy are binaries or members of more complex multiple systems. Some binaries form a class of variable stars (see eclipsing variable star). Stars can be identified as binaries in various waysvisually by telescope, through spectroscopic observation, by changes in apparent brightness (when the dimmer star eclipses its companion), or by changes in the proper motion of the visible member (owing to the gravitational pull of the invisible companion).
* * *also called double starpair of stars in orbit around their common centre of gravity. A high proportion, perhaps one-half, of all stars in the Milky Way Galaxy are binaries or members of more complex multiple systems. Some binaries form a class of variable stars (see eclipsing variable star).If the images of the two components of a binary star system can be separated by telescope, it is called a visual binary. Stars whose components are too close to each other to be distinguished visually can sometimes be identified as binaries by spectroscopic observation; as the members of these spectroscopic binaries move alternately toward the Earth and away from it, a Doppler effect of frequency change is observed in their spectral lines. Binary stars are sometimes detectable by changes in apparent brightness, as the darker (or dimmer) star occludes its brighter companion. Some stellar systems with so-called invisible companions are binaries; these companions might be detected through changes in the proper motion—that is, the rate of motion of the visible stars across the background of more distant stars.
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