Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In a binary star (or in fact a binary system between any two astronomical bodies), both stars orbit the centre of mass. When looking at the gravitational interaction of binary stars we are interested in which points, where (theoretically) a particle of negligible mass could be placed and stay in the same position relative to the two stars? Hint: They were named after an Italian mathematician and astronomer.
2. As well as looking at Lagrangian points, astronomers also consider so called 'equipotential lines'; these are imaginary lines in a binary system showing lines of equal potential energy. The shape of these lines depends only on which factor, often denoted by 'q'?
3. There are many different types of stars that can evolve in a binary star system. Can we say that if one star is bigger than another then it will definitely be heavier?
4. The two stars found in a binary system are given names depending on their mass. The heavier star is generally called the 'primary', while the lighter star is given what name?
5. Many astronomers study mass transfer between the two stars in a binary system. This largely depends on whether or not one or both of the stars is 'Roche lobe filling', but what is a Roche lobe?
6. Focusing on mass transfer between the two stars, there are three main types of binary system. They are detached, semi-detached and which third type, in which both stars are Roche lobe filling? Hint: Forget types of house.
7. What is the dramatic name given to a system containing a white dwarf and a main sequence donor star?
8. One of the features of binary stars most useful to astronomers is their brightness. Some systems see a significant drop in brightness once in every period, why would this be?
9. Which quantity, expressed as the product of a body's moment of inertia and its angular velocity, needs to be conserved while material falls from one star onto another?
10. The way in which binary stars develop over time is dependent on many factors, particularly the initial masses of the two stars. In a system with two main sequence stars, one of 5 solar masses and one of 0.5 solar masses, which star will evolve from the main sequence first, and possibly accrete from the other in the future? Will it be the heavier or lighter star?
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