DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID A. HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Algol binary star system. Artwork of the eclipsing binary star system Algol (Beta Persei), with nearby hypothetical planets. Algol is an eclipsing binary variable system, composed of two stars (orange and white) in mutual orbit, which periodically cut out each other's light as seen from Earth. The cool orange star eclipses the hot, white star every 2.87 days, causing the system's magnitude as seen from Earth to drop temporarily. The reverse eclipse also occurs, but causes a smaller drop in magnitude. It is thought that the white star is drawing matter (wispy tail) from its larger companion, revealed by occasional flares in the system as matter falls onto the white star.
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