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Class 5 : Binary stars and stellar masses. The importance of binary stars The dynamics of a binary system Determining the masses of stars. I : Importance of binary stars . They are common Half of all star systems have two (or, occasionally, more than two stars)

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class 5 binary stars and stellar masses
Class 5 : Binary stars and stellar masses
  • The importance of binary stars
  • The dynamics of a binary system
  • Determining the masses of stars
i importance of binary stars
I : Importance of binary stars
  • They are common
    • Half of all star systems have two (or, occasionally, more than two stars)
    • So 2/3 of all stars are in multiple systems!
  • Stellar masses
    • It is very difficult to determine the mass of an isolated star
    • Can determine masses in binary system from analysis of the orbit
    • Most of our knowledge of stellar masses comes from binary systems
ii the dynamics of a binary star system
II : The dynamics of a binary star system
  • Setting up the situation to analyze…
    • Consider a system consisting of two stars with masses m1 and m2
    • Let r1 and r2 be the position vectors of the two stars with respect to some origin
    • Suppose that this binary system is otherwise isolated… the two stars move under the influence of their mutual gravitational forces (only).
  • Definition : the center of mass of the system is given by
    • By the theorems of vector geometry (not proven here), the center of mass always lies on the line joining the two masses
slide4
Theorem : the center of mass of this isolated system is in a state of uniform motion (i.e. is not accelerating).
  • Proof : It follows immediately from the definition that the acceleration of the center of mass is given by
  • It follows immediately that we can choose a coordinate system (frame of reference) in which the center of mass is at rest
slide6
Assuming circular orbits, we will show on the board that the period of the binary star system (P) and the distance between the stars (R) are related via
    • This is just Newton’s form of Kepler’s 3rd law
    • In general, the orbits will be elliptical, not circular. It can be shown that the same formula holds.
    • So… can determine sum of masses from this formula once we know P and R.
    • Can determine each mass individually if we know their sum and the ratio R1/R2=m2/m1
iii studies of binary systems
III : Studies of binary systems
  • Visual binaries : Systems were we can actually resolve the two stars, and watch them orbit the center of mass
    • Need to be widely separated and/or nearby
    • Can determine all orbital parameters (including corrections for the viewing angle of the binary)… can determine masses unambiguously
  • Spectroscopic binaries : Here, the stars are too close to be resolved. We only know it’s a binary because spectroscopy shows periodic redshifts and blueshifts… i.e., the star “wobbles”
slide10
Suppose we can only measure the Doppler shifts in the spectrum of one of the stars (example of this situation?)
  • So… measurables are the period P and the line-of-sight velocity amplitude
  • We show on the board that…
  • RHS of this is known as the mass function… it is a lower-limit on the mass of star-2.
  • What if we can measure Doppler shifts of both stars?

i is the inclination angle at which we are viewing the binary orbit

slide11
In most systems, we cannot determine the inclination of a binary orbit; all masses have a “sin i” ambiguity
  • Eclipsing binaries : In these systems, we are viewing the system edge-on (i90o)…
    • Stars eclipse each other during orbit
    • Since inclination is now know, we can measure actual masses of the stars
    • From duration of eclipse, we can determine sizes of the stars
    • Thus, very important systems for underpinning our basic knowledge of stars