Talk:Star system

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Show biz etc[edit]

Because of the use of the term 'Star System' in both show-business and astronomy/astrophysics, does this page need to be made into a disambiguation page? There's at least one astronomy page linked to this one (Proxima Centauri). --rparle 01:41, Mar 11, 2004 (UTC)

As the stubby article indicates, I don't think there's a whole lot of encyclopedic content to write about "star system" in the showbiz context, and it doesn't seem like people would instinctively link to it. I've cleaned out most of the links and redirected to Constellation. I'm no expert, and more informed individuals are welcome to change this if a star system is considered a distinctly different concept. --Michael Snow 22:27, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Constellation and Star System are not at all the same thing, but we have no content for the star system article yet. Best option is to blank/delete it until someone wants to write it. --rparle 23:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)

I think we can leave the redirect, even if they're not the same thing. Then if someone uses the link and objects to the redirection, maybe that will motivate them to write the article. --Michael Snow 00:00, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I would argue that a misleading redirect is worse than none at all, because it could be confusing. I've replaced the redirect with a short article, although I'm not an expert in the area. Wmahan 22:55, 24 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Star system, stellar system, solar system, planetary system ...[edit]

Hello! I've noted recent statements about why this distinction has been so characterised; however (perhaps I'm missing this), I do not see any cited references (particularly from astronomical references) substantiating these distinctions. Please corroborate and verify. Thanks! E Pluribus Anthony 09:18, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Hello again! Further to my prior request (unanswered) and after some digging, my search for authoritative definitions for some of these terms has born some fruit:

  • Solar System – A group of celestial bodies comprising the Sun and the large number of bodies that are bound gravitationally to the Sun and revolve in approximately elliptical orbits around it....
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy (ISBN 0-00-710297-6), p. 382
Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy (ISBN 0-19-860513-7), p. 420
Such dictionary definitions neglect the effect of popular usage of the term "solar system", and thus we should also grandfather in popular usages of the term as well. — Rickyrab | Talk 18:01, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
No real argument: it appears the definitions were researched and provided to promote clarity (particularly given the various terms), not necessarily to indicate popular usage or if the term should be capitalised per se. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary, and Encyclopaedia Britannica render the term solely in lower case. Cogito ergo sumo 21:05, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
The McGraw Hill Dictionary of Astronomy (ISBN 0071410473), p. 125
This definition implies it can be correctly used for systems with more than one star, e.g., binary systems, with their constituents. Whether it can be used for one star alone and associated bodies is not wholly clear, in which case star system is likely more appropriate; however, a logical assumption can also be made that stellar, being an adjectival form of star (or stars, as per Oxford English Dictionary), can be used in a similar way to solar when referring to the Sun (Sol), e.g., (unitary) star system.
It cannot be one star and associated non-stellar bodies. The definition says stars. Plural. Nurg 03:12, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm: given parallels with our own star system and until more authoritative sourcing/definitions can be provided, unequivocal statements and related edits asserting this viewpoint seem somewhat unjustified. Cogito ergo sumo 14:23, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Current definition is "a system comprised of a star or group of stars, and, perhaps, planetary systems of smaller bodies (such as planets or asteroids". So it can be (a) a star alone (b) a star with planets etc. (c) group of stars of unlimited number without planets etc. (d) group of stars of unlimited number with planets etc. So it covers everything from a star alone to a galaxy. Where do I find the article dealing with the narrower topic of two or several stars bound by their mutual gravitational attraction such as binary stars, triple star systems etc? Up till Nov 2005 it was this article and the definition was "a group of stars (and possibly smaller bodies such as planets or asteroids) that orbit one another ... a group of a small number of stars, often two or three". The changes to the definition by E Pluribus Anthony on 6 Nov 2005 were well-intentioned but unfortunate, I'm afraid. Credit to E Pluribus Anthony for explaining his thinking on this Talk page because we can see that he based the changes in part on his interpretation of the Mcgraw definition to possibly allow for a single star and associated bodies even though it said "stars" and did not mention associated bodies! Nurg 10:26, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
It appears that changes to this and related articles by E Pluribus Anthony were well-intentioned and necessary: there appeared to be much unsourced confusion regarding applicable definitions. Thus, I'm actually unsure what the problem is here and disagree with your recent edits. Yes, I think the current definition does legitimately allow for a wide range of phenomena: from a unitary star system (e.g., Solar System) – which seems to also be a basis for those changes, and not an illogical one – to multiples, and up to galaxies (which your definition below seems to indicate). I mean, really, that's what a system of entities is. And, not to sound obvious, but I think you'd have to consult the respective articles about binary stars, triple star systems, et al. for more specificity and additional information on those topics. Cogito ergo sumo 10:42, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
  • star system – Strangely, I could not (yet) find printed references/definitions for this term; see solar system and stellar system
Here's one. "a group of stars thought of collectively; a galaxy." Source: star system. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary (2001). Retrieved 01 October 2006. Available from xreferplus. Again that's stars plural. Nurg 03:12, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
This is a limited-access reference source; otherwise, as above. Cogito ergo sumo 14:23, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
Chambers 21st is available on paper. ISBNs 055014210X and 0550142509.
Star system. "a few stars that orbit each other. For example, a double star system consists of two stars; a triple star system consists of three stars; and so on." Source: "star system" in Modern Dictionary of Astronomy and Space Technology. ed. A.S. Bhatia. New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 2005. ISBN 8176297410. Nurg 00:10, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
  • planetary system... A system of celestial bodies in orbit around a star including planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and dust.
The Universal Book of Astronomy, from the Andromeda Galaxy to the Zone of Avoidance (ISBN 0471265691), p. 394
... A system of planets and other bodies, such as comets and meteroids, that orbits a star. The Sun and its planetary system together comprise the solar system.
Collins, p. 314
Note the distinction between solar and planetary system, viz. the Sun (or central star). This clearly does not include the central star(s) as part of the system, so references to the stars and their planets (in an extrasolar context, in toto) can more correctly be dubbed as star system or stellar system, and even improperly, as 'solar system' (e.g., as commonly referred to, like in Serenity).

In some respects, some of these clearly differ with definitions and interpretations already presented in the appropriate Wp articles. Based on this information and unless there are reputable opinions/citations to the contrary, I will be making these appropriate editions to the relevant articles. Thanks! E Pluribus Anthony 01:21, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Citations regarding 'star system'[edit]

User:Nurg has recently added a citation flag to the current definition regarding 'star system' and its applicability to (a system having) just one star. Considering the above (including apparent contraindications in defintions) and particularly regarding usage of the term, I believe this is unjustified; for example:

  • [1]: note title, which details the discovery of planets around a single star (system)
  • [2]: usage regarding our own Sun
  • [3]: discussion of habitable star systems: if one considers only multiple star systems to be potentially habitable (which is highly improbable, methinks, given gravitational forces/instability within them, as opposed to single star systems), then this article is arguably moot or irrelevant ... but I don't think so

Similarly, perhaps most importantly, the example of our own single star system -- the Solar System -- cannot be ignored.

As such, I am removing the citation tag. Cogito ergo sumo 11:13, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Re the first link - that title was probably written by an editor at the popular science site. The article itself consistently uses the term "planetary system" and does not use "star system" once. The original article at ESO has the completely different title "Trio of Neptunes and their Belt".
Re the 2nd link - that is a directory of links and has no value in itself. It links to "The Sun: An Introduction to the Stars" which contains a single reference to "a single star system" but provides no definition and is ambiguous as to whether it means a "single-star star system" or a single (multiple-star) star system.
Re the 3rd link - doesn't define "star system" and is not conclusive.
Re the Wikipedia Solar System article. The definition of the Solar System as a stellar system is unreferenced and may be challenged. Nurg 00:10, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Definitions - summary so far[edit]

  • Star system: "a few stars that orbit each other. For example, a double star system consists of two stars; a triple star system consists of three stars; and so on." Source: Modern Dictionary of Astronomy and Space Technology
  • Stellar system: "A gravitational system of stars." Source: The McGraw Hill Dictionary of Astronomy
  • Star system: "a group of stars thought of collectively". Source: Chambers 21st Century Dictionary

Nurg 00:10, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the research. I acknowledge the definitions above, which may require editions to relevant content. However, one cannot dismiss usage as above or the parallel with the Solar System (as you have)/solar-stellar, either, and the implication that the term may apply just as well to a single (single-star) star system. I believe more information or editorial opinion is required before making wholesale changes as proposed. Cogito ergo sumo 13:56, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Thanks Cogito. Part of our problem is that people can take common words like system, single and star/stellar and string them together but mean different things. So, depending on the context, "single star system" could mean "single-star planetary system" (eg, Solar System), "single multiple-star star system" or "single-star something-else system". My approach to defining Wikipedia articles is, in order:

  1. What is the topic and scope of the article? This is primary because we are writing about things and ideas, not about terms and their definitions which is what Wiktionary does.
  2. Having decided on a topic, what is the best name for the article?
  3. How do we define the name in the context of the topic? The article does not have to cover every possible meaning of the article name - that again is what Wiktionary does.

Applying these principles to this article:

  1. Up till Nov 2005 the scope of this article was "a group of stars (and possibly smaller bodies such as planets or asteroids) that orbit one another ... a group of a small number of stars, often two or three". Seems good and the bulk of the article still matches this.
  2. Given the topic, star system seems like a good name for it.
  3. The definition till Nov 2005 seems a fair, but perhaps not perfect, definition. The Modern Dictionary of Astronomy and Space Technology provides verification.

The addition of "a star" to the article definition doesn't make much sense. A star alone is covered by the star article obviously. A system of planets etc orbiting a single star is covered by the planetary system article.

What type of further information do you think is required? Nurg 00:56, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree that there might be a problem -- however, I generally agree with the changes made since Nov./05 and still do. Moreover, your above analysis et al. is not necessarily agreeable and glazes over usage of the term, which is no less valid or verifiable, than cited definitions which seem (IMO) incomplete and minimalist. For instance, an online search will reveal a number of instances of "single(-)star system" and I think it somewhat difficult to demonstrate they they too are incorrect. Even if those are discarded, applying this notion merely to systems with two or more stars (double, trinary) to the exclusion of single-star 'entities' with non-stellar bodies in association (e.g., the Solar System) seems rather illogical. If anything, the multiple contexts you've indicated above are reasons enough for the content to be included in this article. Alternatively, the current scope of the article and definition/content is appropriate to the topic.
Thus, I defer to my prior comments: until there is overwhelming evidence to support your position (and I yet do not see it, though can be convinced otherwise) or additional editorial comment, I see little reason to change the status quo. Cogito ergo sumo 03:17, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

The main problem, as I see it, is that there isn't yet an agreed term for an extrasolar solar system. I think this article should focus on the agreed definition of "stellar system" (that is, multiple star systems), and that the articles for "planetary system", "solar system" and "extrasolar planet" should note that a generic term for what we call the solar system has yet to be fully settled. Serendipodous 13:34, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm; while I do not disagree, I think you've crystallised the problem: definitions may agree, but usage (and verifiable at that) may not -- i.e., the cited definitions appear not to fully coincide with or prescribe usage of said terms. If articles are to be revised, they must be in a manner that embraces both perspectives. Cogito ergo sumo 13:56, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
A helpful researcher over on an astronomy forum I frequent did a search of Harvard academic papers for the term "stellar system". The most frequent usage was for "two or three stars bound together gravitationally == multiple star", and "large cluster of stars bound together gravitationally == galaxy or globular cluster." Serendipodous 21:22, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
If this is to be believed, "most frequent" is not exclusively. Again, I defer to prior comments ... Cogito ergo sumo 23:17, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
"solar system" does seem to be the most prevalent term for an "extrasolar" star and its gravitationally bound bodies in popularly abstracted image of such a thing as consisting of a single star. It makes me die a little on the inside, but it's understandable that it should end up this way. It's like calling other planets "other earths" instead of by proper names or as other PLANETS but I'm grateful at least we have that as an example I can make. Perhaps "solar system" needs a disambiguation page? Horrible. Antireconciler (talk) 17:42, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Multiple Extreme example[edit]

This page claims Nu Scorpii has "at least seven stars", but the actual Nu Scorpii page mentions only a pair of close binaries with one being a spectroscopic double, for a total of 5 stars. I've replaced Nu Scorpii with castor, which is a sextuple system, and better known. CFLeon 04:49, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

There are even more complex systems.--JyriL talk 17:35, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
Unless citable, CFLeon's replacement was a good one. As much as I've read, there are no septuples known yet (for sure). ... said: Rursus (bork²) 22:27, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
According to this link and this one there are 2 septuples known. L8R. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 12:02, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
I found a typo in the link looking up ν Sco in MSC/Tokovinin. The SIMBAD version says the two known septuple systems are Nu Scorpii and AR Cassiopeiae, so it's time to reintroduce septuples in the table. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 12:24, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Merge from triple star system[edit]

I can't see any reason why we should have separate article for triple star systems.--JyriL talk 17:35, 30 December 2006 (UTC)


91 Aquarii is listed as a quintuple system, probably it is an obsolete theory, or a major confusion somehow, when following diverse links i find four or five star systems with at most three components, see Talk:91_Aquarii#Disputed. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 18:49, 8 December 2009 (UTC)


Alcor/ Mizar are now considered bound together which makes the Alcor binary and the Mizar quadruple add up to a hextuple. (Astrophysical Journal) Aidan Karley (talk) 12:15, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Designations / Naming COnventions[edit]

Not mentioned in this article, would be useful to understand the nomenclature for star systems. For example, Alpha Centauri is a triple star system, the individual stars are Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B and Alpha Centauri C, however the system is referred to as Alpha Centauri or Alpha Centauri AB - the reason for this is not entirely clear just looking at this article. Perhaps this article could describe the conventions used and how they are determined based on how stars are gravitationally bound. --EvenGreenerFish (talk) 07:14, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

I believe that Alpha Centauri AB and Proxima Centauri are referred to separately for a few reasons - firstly, the fact that they were historically given those names, and secondly, because Proxima is still only a "very likely" member of the system, rather than being 100% verified. You can see historical "artifact titles" at work a number of systems; for example, the two stars of the Zeta Reticuli system still use their old double star designations, Zeta1 and Zeta2, because they were first thought to be an optical double that wasn't physically associated (rather than members of a wide binary, as we know them to be today). -- (talk) 03:44, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Stability of (a) in the diagram[edit]

Wouldn't (a) in the diagram necessarily have to be unstable? --JorisvS (talk) 09:01, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Frequencies of multiples[edit]

What are the frequencies of double, triple, etc. systems relative to single stars? --JorisvS (talk) 14:18, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Dubious - Mintaka/Delta Orionis[edit]

Every source I can find online says that Mintaka is a four-star system, with an OII and a BV star pair forming an Algol-type eclipsing binary, and two distant companions (which seem to be mostly unstudied, but one source has the brighter of the two as a B-type star of some sort). However, it's listed as a quintuple system here, with no citation. Unless someone can back this up, I'm going to go ahead and change it. -- (talk) 03:35, 28 September 2014 (UTC)