Here I began exploring appearances of binary stars when standing on a planet. The planet orbits both stars.

I've established through the help of this community that there are times that the two stars align and appear as one star. I've further established that solar radiation (solar storms) hitting the planet can fluctuate depending on the orientation and geometries. I have solar storms and dangerous radiation happening when the suns are aligned with the planet.

^ Background. ^

Question: All else being equal, I intuit that the two stars at their maximum distance from one another (as seen from the planet) will heat the planet to a greater extent than the two stars in alignment with the planet. (I intuit that during alignment there is one heat source not two). But I am not certain and given the above background, it could actually be the opposite. Thank you for any clarity you can provide.

  • $\begingroup$ That would be my interpretation too but I don't have any math to back that up, I actually suspect that due to lensing effects the point of maximum insolation intensity would be somewhere in the middle rather that at greatest separation. $\endgroup$ – Ash Oct 16 '17 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think orbit is critical question here, if its orbiting one of the stars then your intuition would be right, if its orbiting outside both of the stars then your intuition may be wrong as it would get much closer to one star at one point in its orbit. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 16 '17 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ It has to be a P-type orbit (around both stars), and those stars should be a close binary. Otherwise, effect of the distance to stars would be much stronger than the effect of shadowing. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Oct 16 '17 at 17:34

If you look at the diagram of the light intensity of a binary system vs the relative position of the two stars, you clearly see how the position affects it:

enter image description here

Now, since the inpinging radiation is proportional to the intensity, you can see that your intuition is correct. When one star eclipse the other there will be a dip in the intensity.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this affected by orbit, say its orbiting outside of the binary stars where it could have a moment where it is much closer to one star while eclipsing the other. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 16 '17 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ This is true. I don't think there is any orbit that can avoid it completely, although in an inclined orbit eclipses could be very infrequent. $\endgroup$ – Slarty Oct 16 '17 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer! What is the source for the diagram? That's a very useful piece of information. Plus one. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 17 '17 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android, the source of the diagram is provided in the link under "binary system" $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Oct 17 '17 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Too obvious really. Links are usually worth checking too, this time I forgot. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 17 '17 at 11:39

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