(star that varies in magnitude)
A variable star (or just a variable) is a star which becomes dimmer
and brighter over time as seen from Earth. This
can be due to changes in the star such as brightening
or enlarging, or through a change in whatever the
light must pass through to reach us.
Stars generally are at least slightly variable,
such as the 0.1% variability of the Sun over the solar cycle.
The term microvariable indicates a star showing very slight
variability, e.g., small enough that multiple observations must be
made to preclude instrument variability and random errors.
A few of the types:
- Cepheid variable - oscillates between being physically larger and smaller.
- W Virginis variable - specific type of Cepheid variable: 10-20 day period, spectral class F6 to K2.
- RR Lyrae variable - somewhat similar to a cepheid.
- protostars such as T-Tauri star and FU Orionis stars.
- polar or AM Herculis star - binary star with accretion of mass from a red dwarf to a white dwarf with a significant magnetic field.
- intermediate polar or DQ Herculis star - similar to a polar if the magnetic field is weaker or the stars are further apart.
- BY Draconis variable (or BY Draconis star) - apparently starspots produce their variability.
- RS Canum Venaticorum variable (or RS Canum Venaticorum star) - like BY Draconis variables that are also close binary stars.
- flare star - shows quick variations, e.g., in minutes - generally an M dwarf (examples: Wolf 359 and Barnard's Star).
- W Ursae Majoris variable - a contact binary in which the smaller companion eclipses.
The details of the observed variation offer clues to the sources
of variation, often revealing or confirming models of stellar structure
for the given star, for its particular variable-star type, and for
stars in general. In this sense, variable stars are analogous to
binary stars, which also serve as windows into stellar detail.
(star type,transient type,variable)
AD Leonis (AD Leo)
Algol (Beta Per)
cataclysmic variable star (CV)
Frank Ross's Catalog (Ross)
FU Orionis star (FUor)
General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS)
Messier 15 (M15)
partial ionization zone
RR Lyrae variable
T-Tauri star (TTS)
variable star designation