Binary star in an orbit whose plane passes through or very near Earth. An observer on Earth sees one star pass periodically in front of the other and diminish its light through an eclipse. The star Algol, in the constellation Perseus, was the first such star recognized (1782); thousands are now known. By combining the brightness variations with spectroscopic information for both stars, astronomers can determine the mass and size of each star. Seealso variable star.
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