Chapter Introduction

In this chapter we first identify eclipsing binaries (EBs) as a class of variable stars, which we discuss generally. We then sketch the importance of EBs for the determination of fundamental stellar data. We discuss the conditions under which EB light curve data enable astronomers to derive stellar masses and other parameters. Finally, we provide the foundation for understanding EB models based on equipotential surfaces.

Although originally classified phenomenologically (namely, from light curve appearance), EBs are now understood on the basis of much firmer physics. The improved understanding has led to a morphological basis for classification.

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