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Algol double star

Algol double star

R620/0211

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Credit

MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Algol eclipsing binary star. Computer illustration of the eclipsing binary star system Algol (Beta Persei). This is the prototype of eclipsing binary variable stars, in which two stars in mutual orbit periodically cut out each other's light as seen from Earth. Algol comprises a cool orange star and a hot white star. As the orange star eclipses the brighter white star, every 2.87 days, the system's magnitude as seen from Earth drops from 2.2 to 3.5. The reverse eclipse causes a far smaller drop of only 0.06. It is thought that the white star is also drawing matter from its larger companion, as the system erratically flares up in radio wavelengths due to matter falling onto the star.

Release details

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