Interferometric observations of the hierarchical triple system algol

Sz Csizmadia, T. Borkovits, Zs Paragi, P. Brahm, L. Szabados, L. Mosoni, L. Sturmann, J. Sturmann, C. Farrington, H. A. McAlister, T. A.Ten Brummelaar, N. H. Turner, P. Klagyivik

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Algol is a triple stellar system consisting of a close semidetached binary orbited by a third object. Due to the disputed spatial orientation of the close pair, the third body perturbation of this pair is a subject of much research. In this study, we determine the spatial orientation of the close pair orbital plane using the CHARA Array, a six-element optical/IR interferometer located on Mount Wilson, and state-of-the-art e-EVN interferometric techniques. We find that the longitude of the line of nodes for the close pair is Ω1 = 48° 2° and the mutual inclination of the orbital planes of the close and the wide pairs is 95° 3°. This latter value differs by 5° from the formerly known 100°, which would imply a very fast inclination variation of the system, not borne out by the photometric observations. We also investigated the dynamics of the system with numerical integration of the equations of motions using our result as an initial condition. We found large variations in the inclination of the close pair (its amplitude 170°) with a period of about 20 millennia. This result is in good agreement with the photometrically observed change of amplitude in Algol's primary minimum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-445
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009



  • Binaries: close
  • Binaries: eclipsing
  • Stars: individual (Algol, Beta Persei)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Csizmadia, S., Borkovits, T., Paragi, Z., Brahm, P., Szabados, L., Mosoni, L., Sturmann, L., Sturmann, J., Farrington, C., McAlister, H. A., Brummelaar, T. A. T., Turner, N. H., & Klagyivik, P. (2009). Interferometric observations of the hierarchical triple system algol. Astrophysical Journal, 705(1), 436-445.