| Modulo | Universe

Cosmology, Astronomy and Abstract Mathematics

Elsilon Lyrae

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epsilon lyrae

Epsilon Lyrae is a nice easy double star you can view in binoculars all year round in northern latitudes. It sits high in the southern sky very close to the bright star Vega, so is relatively easy to find.

Viewed with the naked eye, it’s just a normal looking 5th magnitude star, but point some binoculars at it and it splits into two clearly separated stars. Things get even more interesting if you train a telescope on the pair, as they’ll split again, revealing a pair of double stars!

The main pair are gravitationally bound and orbit each other every 1200 years with a separation of 160AU (or 160 times the distance from Earth to our Sun). The system is approximately 170 light years away.

Double star systems are the norm in our galaxy with over 60% of star systems containing double or multiple stars orbiting each other at various distances. Our Sun, so far as we know, is a lone wanderer.

Simulations of quadruple star systems suggest they’re relatively unstable, and easily disturbed from their rotating reels by the passing tug of galactic neighbours.

Double double.PNG

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