Di, coeptis... adspirate meis (Gods, aid my undertaking)
The second edition arose from the authors' and the publisher's observations that 10 years after the first edition a new edition is needed to cover the impressively long list of new physical features and analyzing methods in eclipsing binary (EB) star analysis. Direct distance estimation through EB analysis is one of the highlights. Complete derivation of the ephemerides and third-body orbital parameters from light and radial velocity curves is another. Incorporation of interpolation-based approximations to stellar atmospheres has become common practice. Limb-darkening coefficients do not need to be entered explicitly but are locally computed as function of temperature, gravity, wavelength, and chemical composition.
EB research has made great contributions to stellar astrophysics for over a century, e.g., resolution of the Algol paradox, insights into the physics of cataclysmic variables, and improved understanding of W UMa stars. Bright EBs can be observed and analyzed for orbital and physical properties to high accuracy with even modest equipment. The advent of larger telescopes and powerful instrumentation also allows analysis and distance estimations of EBs in Local Group galaxies even as far as M31 and M33. Large telescopes also allows the observation and study of eclipsing very-low-mass stars, brown dwarfs and planets, and even planets in EBs. The detection of extra-solar planets by transit methods is a field not entirely outside the EB research where EB techniques have been used successfully.
The Kepler mission1 (cf. Koch et al. (2006)) launched on March 6th, 2009, the GAIA mission to be launched in 2012 or the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST; http://www.lsst.org/), in discussion for after 2015, will add a new challenge to the field: The analysis of large numbers of EB light curves from surveys. Finally, enhanced or completely new software is available for EB research. PHOEBE (Sect. 8.2) is an example of a platform-independent EB software with an attractive graphical user interface.
1 Updated details are at http://www.kepler.arc.nasa.gov.
The proceedings of IAU Symposium No. 240 (2006) [entitled Binary Stars as Critical Tools & Tests in Contemporary Astrophysics, edited by Hartkopf et al. (2007)] provide an excellent overview on state-of-the-art and ongoing activities in close binary research. They briefly review major advances in instrumentation and techniques, new observing and reduction methods, and discuss binary stars as critical tools and tests for studying a wide variety of astrophysical problems. Tools of the Trade and the Products they Produce: Modeling of Eclipsing Binary Observables edited by Milone et al. (2008) is another source highlighting recent advances. We see strong enhancements both in physics and in EB software:
• additional physical features
1. an alternative method to derive a binary's ephemeris;
2. effects of third bodies on light curves and radial velocity curves;
3. EBs with intrinsically variable components;
4. stellar atmosphere approximation functions;
5. direct distance estimation;
6. color indices as indicators of individual temperatures;
7. spectral energy distribution as independent data source; and
8. main sequence constraints;
• enhanced programs and new software;
• techniques for analyzing large numbers of light curves, and;
• EBs in extra-solar planet research.
We largely retain the structure of the first edition. Some sections have been added to the existing chapters, especially the Eclipsing Binary Guide for Researchers in Other Fields in Chap. 1. What is now called Chap. 5 hosts most of the new material. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the first edition are now Chaps. 6, 7, and 8 of this second edition.
Last but not least: The book is now part of Springer's Astronomy and Astrophysics Library Series which both indicates and acknowledges its wider relevance for astronomy and astrophysics.
Gainesville, FL, US Calgary, AB, Canada
Josef Kallrath Eugene F. Milone
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