Introduction & Overview to Symposium 240: Binary Stars as Critical Tools and Tests in Contemporary Astrophysics
VILLANOVA UNIV PA DEPT OF ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS
Pagination or Media Count:
An overview is presented of the many new and exciting developments in binary and multiple star studies that were discussed at IAU Symposium 240. Impacts on binary and multiple star studies from new technologies, techniques, instruments, missions and theory are highlighted. It is crucial to study binary and multiple stars because the vast majority of stars 60 in our Galaxy and in other galaxies consist, not of single stars, but of double and multiple star systems. To understand galaxies we need to understand stars, but since most are members of binary and multiple star systems, we need to study and understand binary stars. The major advances in technology, instrumentation, computers, and theory have revolutionized what we know and also dont know about binary and multiple star systems. Data now available from interferometry with milliarcsecond mas and sub-mas precisions, high-precision radial velocities 1-2 ms and high precision photometry 1 2 milli-mag as well as the wealth of new data that are pouring in from panoramic optical and infrared surveys e.g., 10,000 new binaries found since 1995, have led to a renaissance in binary star and multiple star studies. For example, advances have lead to the discovery of new classes of binary systems with planet and brown dwarf components over 200 systems. Also, extremely valuable data about binary stars are available across the entire electromagnetic spectrum from gamma-ray to IR space missions and from the ground using increasingly more powerful and plentiful optical and radio telescopes as well as robotic telescopes. In the immediate future, spectral coverage could even be extended beyond the radio to the first detection of gravity waves from interacting close binaries.