mass ratio

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An expression of the relative masses of the components of a binary star when both spectra are visible. It is derived from the radial velocity curves for both components and may be written as M2/M1 = a1sin i/a2 sin i, where M1 and M2 are the masses of the components, and a1 and a2 are the amplitudes of the velocity curves. If the orbital inclination, i, can be determined (as in an eclipsing binary) the actual masses of the components, and the dimensions of the stars and their orbits, can be obtained.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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