The Brave New World of Binary Star Studies

  • Edward F. Guinan
  • Scott G. Engle


In this paper we discuss some of the new and exciting developments in the study of binary stars. Recent technological advances (such as CCDs) now make it possible (even easy) to study faint, astrophysically important binaries that in the past could only be done with large 4 + meter class telescopes. Also, the panoramic nature of CCDs (and the use of mosaics), permit large numbers of stars to be imaged and studied. At this conference, most of the observational material discussed was secured typically with smaller aperture 0.5 – 2 m telescopes. Excellent examples are the discovery of over 104 new ∼13 – 20 mag eclipsing (and interacting) binaries now found in nearby galaxies from the EROS, OGLE, MACHO and DIRECT programs. As briefly discussed here, and in more detail in several papers in this volume, a small fraction of these extragalactic eclipsing binaries are now serving as “standard candles” to secure accurate distances to the Magellanic Clouds, as well as to M31 and M33. Moreover, the discovery of increasingly larger numbers of eclipsing binaries has stimulated the development of automatic methods for reducing and analyzing the light curves of thousands of systems. In the near future, hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of additional systems are expected to be discovered by Pan-STARRS, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescopes (LSST), and later by GAIA. Over the last decade, new classes of binary systems have also been found which contain Jupiter-size planets and binaries containing pulsating stars. Some examples of these important binaries are discussed. Also discussed are the increasing numbers (now eight) of eclipsing binary planet-star systems that have been found from high precision photometry. These systems are very important since the radii and masses of the hosted planets can be directly measured. Moreover, from the upcoming COROT and KEPLER missions hundreds of additional transiting planet-star systems are expected to be found. All in all, we hope in this paper to highlight some of the current developments and new directions in the “Brave New World” of binary star studies.


Eclipsing Binaries 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward F. Guinan
    • 1
  • Scott G. Engle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Astronomy & AstrophysicsVillanova UniversityVillanovaUSA

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