There are many solar systems with 2 or more stars orbiting around each other, or more correctly, they are orbiting around the common center of mass.
These systems are obviously very different from our system that has 1 yellow star.
Here is an artist's conception of what these binary systems may look like.
In the above artist's conception there are 2 white dwarf stars in a binary system orbiting around each other, created by their enourmous gravitational attraction for one another.
At Zooniverse we are involved in searching for planets around stars and we encounter numerous binary stars such as the one above. We analyze the light curves from the Kepler Space Telescope.
We look for dips in the light curves that could indicate that a planet has moved in front of a star (eclipsing the star). Many times we encounter eclipsing binary systems.
Below is a typical light curve for an eclipsing binary star system derived from Kepler 2 data (second mission) from which I contribute my time as a planet hunter analyzing light curves from the Kepler Space Telescope..
In the light curve above, you can see the vertical spheres dropping from the main light curve (thick area of spheres). These are drops in the amount of light coming from the binary star system. It is the result of 1 star passing in front of the other star (eclipsing the other star). Below is the diagram explaining the light curve coming from an eclipsing binary system.
Image above is compliments of David Darling
Image Above is compliments of NASA
The light intensity is shown by the white horizontal line. The highest intensity occurs when light from both stars is visible (horizontal line). When the larger star passes in front of the smaller star we observe a significant decrease in light intensity.
The smaller dip in the light curve occurs when the smaller star passes in front of the larger star.
These changes in the light curve are only noticeable for star systems that are orbiting in the same plane of view as the Kepler telescope.
When you think about it, this is still an amazing analysis of eclipsing binary systems that are light years away from us!
Maddalena Environmental Inc.