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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/659

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CHAPTERS ON THE STARS IV.

Beta Lyræ is always of the same brightness at the same hour of its period, and Algol has always the same magnitude at minimum. It is true that the length of the period varies slowly in the case of these stars. But this may arise from the action of other invisible bodies revolving around the visible stars. This general uniformity is in accord with the theory which attributes the apparent variations to the various aspects in which we see one and the same system of revolving stars.

Another variable star showing some unique features is Eta Aquilæ. What gives it special interest is that spectroscopic observations of its radial motion show it to have a dark body revolving round it in a very eccentric orbit, and in the same time as the period of variation. It might therefore be supposed that we have here a star of the Algol or Beta Lyræ type. But such is not the case. There is nothing in the law of variation to suggest an eclipsing of the bright star, nor does it seem that the variations can readily be represented by the varying aspects of any revolving system.

The orbit of this star has been exhaustively investigated by Wright from Campbell's observations of the radial motion. The laws of change in the system are shown by the curves below, which are reproduced, in great part, from Wright's paper in the 'Astrophysical Journal.'

PSM V57 D659 Light-curve and radial velocity of eta aquilae.png
Fig. 4. Light-Curve and Radial Velocity of Eta Aquilæ.

The lower curve is the light-curve of the star during a period of 7.167 days. Starting from a maximum of 3.5 mag., it sinks, in the course of 5 days, to a minimum of 4.7m. It was found by Schwab that the diminution is not progressive, but that a secondary maximum of 3.8m. is reached at the end of the second day. After reaching the principal minimum it rises rapidly to the principal maximum in 2¼ days.

The upper curve shows the radial velocity of the star during the