Eclipsing Binaries

Today’s post is by one of our undergrads, Farris Gillman ——

Dear Planethunters,

I am a junior at Yale, and just beginning a project to follow up and model the EB’s that you all have discovered! Prof Debra Fischer and I took the 7am train from New Haven to Villanova University on Friday 11/11/11, where we met with Prof Andrej Prsa, an expert in modeling eclisping binary systems. It was a beautiful Fall day in Philadelphia! We returned on the 5am train Saturday morning, a little painful for me, but I got to sleep on the train since I didn’t down gallons of green coffee the night before!

Prof Prsa showed us how to use his program to model the periods and phases of eclipsing binary star systems, and we began working through the list of unique EB’s compiled by kianjin. It was this list of ~150 eclipsing binaries prompted our trip, and I will be working on this data set for my senior thesis project as well. I’m hoping to improve the modeling software and begin looking at some of the statistics of EB’s.  Planet Hunters has been particularly helpful in finding eclipsing binary systems with long periods, which preliminary searches had missed. Dr. Prsa also gave us an overview of his publicly available program PHOEBE (, which you can download too, to model binary systems. Thanks so much for all of your help – I’m really excited to start modeling some of these systems!

-F Gillman


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