- a star that varies markedly in brightness from time to time.
Origin of variable star
First recorded in 1780–90
Also called variable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- any star that varies considerably in brightness, either irregularly or in regular periods. Intrinsic variables, in which the variation is a result of internal changes, include novae, supernovae, and pulsating starsSee also eclipsing binary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
- A star whose actual or observed brightness varies periodically. These changes can occur with varying degrees of regularity and intensity, over times ranging from a fraction of a second to many years. Intrinsic variation occurs because of changes of the star itself, often due to internal vibration or eruptions, or to influx of nearby material. Cepheids and novae are examples of intrinsically variable stars. Extrinsic variation in a star's observed brightness that does not reflect physical changes in the star also occur, as when a darker star periodically eclipses a brighter star in an eclipsing binary system, or with the rotation of a star.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.