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Binary star systems: projects for the near future

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Two computational models have now been extended to deal with the kinematics of triple systems via combined light-time and radial velocity variations of eclipsing binary mass centres. Applications to binaries known or suspected to be accompanied by third bodies can improve knowledge of multiple-system statistics. A neglected area is the measurement of polarization curves for Algol-type binaries, which pose instrumental and observational challenges. Algols should show polarization due to scattering in mass transfer streams and circumstellar discs, as well as Thomson scattering in the photospheres of their hot stars and Rayleigh scattering due to irradiation of their cooler stars. Polarization data need to be extended to sufficiently faint stars so as to observe these phenomena in a reasonable number of systems, which will require excellent polarimeters, large telescopes and good observing strategies. A third project is the measurement of distances, with standard errors, to many eclipsing binaries by direct distance estimation (DDE), for which the computer model will soon be made public. Accurate distances now can be found routinely by DDE. A fourth project is to establish photometric calibrations, by eclipsing binary observations, in standard physical units (say, erg s-1 cm-3 for a magnitude-zero star) in standard bands other than the modest number that have already been calibrated. Several of these projects will be made easier if journal regulations require that observation tables are always published and that times are given for all observations.
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Keywords: Binary stars; Distances; Flux calibration; Multiple systems; Polarization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Astronomy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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