Beta Lyrae

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Beta Lyrae
Lyra constellation map.svg
Location of β Lyrae in Lyra
Observation data
Epoch J2000.0      Equinox J2000.0
Constellation Lyra
Right ascension 18h 50m 04.79525s[1]
Declination +33° 21′ 45.6100″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 3.52[2] (3.25 – 4.36[3])
Spectral type B7Ve[4] + B[2]
U−B color index −0.56[5]
B−V color index +0.00[5]
Variable type β Lyr[3]
Radial velocity (Rv) −19.2[6] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: 1.90[1] mas/yr
Dec.: −3.53[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π) 3.39 ± 0.17[1] mas
Distance 960 ± 50 ly
(290 ± 10 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV) −3.82[7]
Absolute bolometric
–6.3 ± 0.2 / –4.7 ± 0.1[8]
Companion Beta Lyrae B
Period (P) 12.9414 days
Semi-major axis (a) 0.865 ± 0.048
Eccentricity (e) 0
Inclination (i) 92.25 ± 0.82°
Longitude of the node (Ω) 254.39 ± 0.83°
β Lyr A
Mass 13.16 ± 0.3 M
Radius 6.0 ± 0.2 R
Luminosity 26,300 L
Surface gravity (log g) 4.0 ± 0.1 cgs
Temperature 30,000 ± 2,000 K
β Lyr B
Mass 2.97 ± 0.2 M
Radius 15.2 ± 0.2 R
Luminosity 6,500 L
Surface gravity (log g) 2.5 ± 0.1 cgs
Temperature 13,300 K
Age 23 Myr
Other designations
Sheliak, Shelyak, Shiliak, 10 Lyrae, AAVSO 1846+33, BD+33°3223, FK5 705, HD 174638, HIP 92420, HR 7106, SAO 67451.[9]
Database references

Beta Lyrae (Latinized from β Lyrae, abbreviated Beta Lyr, β Lyr), also named Sheliak,[10] is a binary star system approximately 960 light-years (290 parsecs) from the Sun in the constellation of Lyra.


β Lyrae (Latinised to Beta Lyrae) is the system's Bayer designation, established by Johann Bayer in his Uranometria of 1603. It also bears the Flamsteed designation 10 Lyrae.

Beta Lyrae bore the traditional name Sheliak (occasionally Shelyak or Shiliak), derived from the Arabic الشلياق šiliyāq or Al Shilyāk, one of the names of the constellation of Lyra in Islamic astronomy.[11] In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)[12] to catalogue and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN approved the name Sheliak for this star on 21 August 2016 and it is now so entered in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.[10]

In Chinese astronomy, Tsan Tae (漸台 (Jiāntāi), meaning Clepsydra Terrace, refers to an asterism consisting of this star, Delta2 Lyrae, Gamma Lyrae and Iota Lyrae.[13] Consequently, Beta Lyrae itself is known as 漸台二 (Jiāntāièr, English: the Second Star of Clepsydra Terrace.)


Beta Lyrae is a semidetached binary system made up of a stellar class B7 main sequence primary star and a secondary that is probably also a B-type star, the fainter, less massive star in the system was once the more massive member of the pair, which caused it to evolve away from the main sequence first and become a giant star. Because the pair are in a close orbit, as this star expanded into a giant it filled its Roche lobe and transferred most of its mass over to its companion, the secondary, now more massive star is surrounded by an accretion disk from this mass transfer, with bipolar, jet-like features projecting perpendicular to the disk.[2] This accretion disk blocks humans' view of the secondary star, lowering its apparent luminosity and making it difficult for astronomers to pinpoint what its stellar type is, the amount of mass being transferred between the two stars is about 2 × 10−5 solar masses per year, or the equivalent of the Sun's mass every 50,000 years, which results in an increase in orbital period of about 19 seconds each year. The spectrum of Beta Lyrae shows emission lines produced by the accretion disc, the disc produces around 20% of the brightness of the system.[2]


The variable luminosity of this system was discovered in 1784 by the British amateur astronomer John Goodricke,[14] the orbital plane of this system is nearly aligned with the line of sight from the Earth, so the two stars periodically eclipse each other. This causes Beta Lyrae to regularly change its apparent magnitude from +3.2 to +4.4 over an orbital period of 12.9414 days. The two components are so close together that they cannot be resolved with optical telescopes, forming a spectroscopic binary; in 2008, the primary star and the accretion disk of the secondary star were resolved and imaged using the CHARA Array interferometer[15] and the Michigan InfraRed Combiner (MIRC)[16] in the near infrared H band (see video below), allowing the orbital elements to be computed for the first time.[2]

In addition to the regular eclipses, the system shows smaller and slower variations in brightness, these are thought to be caused by changes in the accretion disc and are accompanied by variation in the profile and strength of spectral lines, particularly the emission lines. The variations are not regular but have been characterised with a period of 282 days.[17]


In addition to the spectroscopic pair, several other companions to Beta Lyrae have been catalogued. β Lyr B, at an angular distance of 45.7", is of spectral type B7 V, has an apparent magnitude of +7.2, and can easily be seen with binoculars. It is about 80 times as luminous as the Sun and is also a spectroscopic binary with a period of 4.34 days.[citation needed] β Lyr C is magnitude 9.9v separation 86" and with a luminosity 7 times that of the Sun.[citation needed] The Washington Double Star Catalog lists three more faint companions at one to two arc minutes separation.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e van Leeuwen, F. (November 2007), "Validation of the new Hipparcos reduction", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 474 (2): 653–664, arXiv:0708.1752Freely accessible, Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V, doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Zhao, M.; et al. (September 2008), "First Resolved Images of the Eclipsing and Interacting Binary β Lyrae", The Astrophysical Journal, 684 (2): L95–L98, arXiv:0808.0932Freely accessible, Bibcode:2008ApJ...684L..95Z, doi:10.1086/592146. 
  3. ^ a b Samus, N. N.; Durlevich, O. V.; et al. (2009). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: General Catalogue of Variable Stars (Samus+ 2007-2013)". VizieR On-line Data Catalog: B/gcvs. Originally published in: 2009yCat....102025S. 1. Bibcode:2009yCat....102025S. 
  4. ^ Grzenia, B. J.; Tycner, C.; Jones, C. E.; Rinehart, S. A.; Van Belle, G. T.; Sigut, T. A. A. (2013). "Modeling Circumstellar Disks of B-type Stars with Observations from the Palomar Testbed Interferometer". The Astronomical Journal. 145 (5): 141. Bibcode:2013AJ....145..141G. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/145/5/141. 
  5. ^ a b Nicolet, B. (1978), "Photoelectric photometric Catalogue of homogeneous measurements in the UBV System", Observatory, 
  6. ^ Wilson, Ralph Elmer (1953), "General catalogue of stellar radial velocities", Washington, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Bibcode:1953GCRV..C......0W. 
  7. ^ Anderson, E.; Francis, Ch. (2012), "XHIP: An extended hipparcos compilation", Astronomy Letters, 38 (5): 331, arXiv:1108.4971Freely accessible, Bibcode:2012AstL...38..331A, doi:10.1134/S1063773712050015. 
  8. ^ a b Mennickent, R. E.; et al. (2006), "On the accretion disc and evolutionary stage of β Lyrae", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 432 (1): 799–809, arXiv:1303.5812Freely accessible, Bibcode:2013MNRAS.432..799M, doi:10.1093/mnras/stt515. 
  9. ^ "V* bet Lyr -- Eclipsing binary of beta Lyr type", SIMBAD, Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg, retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  10. ^ a b "IAU Catalog of Star Names". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  11. ^ Allen, Richard Hinckley (1899), "Star-names and their meanings", New York, G. E. Stechert: 287, 
  12. ^ IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), International Astronomical Union, retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  13. ^ (in Chinese) AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 7 月 3 日
  14. ^ Hoskin, M. (1979), "Goodricke, Pigott and the Quest for Variable Stars", Journal for the History of Astronomy, 10: 23–41, Bibcode:1979JHA....10...23H. 
  15. ^ ten Brummelaar, Theo; et al. (July 2005), "First Results from the CHARA Array. II. A Description of the Instrument", The Astrophysical Journal, 628 (453): 453, arXiv:astro-ph/0504082Freely accessible, Bibcode:2005ApJ...628..453T, doi:10.1086/430729. 
  16. ^ Monnier, John D.; et al. (2006), "Michigan Infrared Combiner (MIRC): commissioning results at the CHARA Array", Proceedings of the SPIE, Advances in Stellar Interferometry, 6268 (62681P): 62681P, Bibcode:2006SPIE.6268E..55M, doi:10.1117/12.671982. 
  17. ^ Carrier, F.; Burki, G.; Burnet, M. (2002). "Search for duplicity in periodic variable Be stars". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 385 (2): 488. Bibcode:2002A&A...385..488C. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020174. 
  18. ^ Mason, Brian D.; Wycoff, Gary L.; Hartkopf, William I.; Douglass, Geoffrey G.; Worley, Charles E. (2001). "The 2001 US Naval Observatory Double Star CD-ROM. I. The Washington Double Star Catalog". The Astronomical Journal. 122 (6): 3466. Bibcode:2001AJ....122.3466M. doi:10.1086/323920. 

External links[edit]