Variable Star

Variable Star

A variable star is a star whose brightess as seen from Earth (its apparent magnitude) fluctuates.

This variation may be caused by a change in emitted light or by something partly blocking the light, so variable stars are classified as either:

  • Intrinsic variables, whose luminosity actually changes; for example, because the star periodically swells and shrinks.
  • Extrinsic variables, whose apparent changes in brightness are due to changes in the amount of their light that can reach Earth; for example, because the star has an orbiting companion that sometimes eclipses it.

Many, possibly most, stars have at least some variation in luminosity: the energy output of our Sun, for example, varies by about 0.1% over an 11 year solar cycle.


Read more about Variable StarDiscovery, Detecting Variability, Variable Star Nomenclature, Classification

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