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Math and Science => Technology & Calculator Open Topic
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bfr

Member

Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 108

 Posted: 10 May 2009 05:26:47 pm    Post subject: If one star's mass is m, another star's mass is 2m, and they move in a binary star system (each in circular orbits around the same center), how can I find the two radii of each star's orbit?
FloppusMaximus

Joined: 22 Aug 2008
Posts: 472

 Posted: 11 May 2009 12:35:26 pm    Post subject: This problem seems poorly defined. If we assume the two stars are the only objects in the system, then yes, they will form circular orbits around each other. But depending on where you stand, you could equally well say that star A is following a circular path around star B, or that star B is following a circular path around star A, or that both of them are following circular paths around some other point. (In particular, you could place an observer at any of the five Lagrange points, and he would observe the two stars as making circular orbits around him.) If you're looking for the center of mass of the whole contraption, it's one-third of the way from the larger star to the smaller. In any case, you haven't given any information that could determine how far apart the stars are.
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