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I posed a question or two on here a couple months or so ago about the orbital patterns of each of the seven stars in the two septenary star systems Nu Scorpii and AR Cassiopeiae. They remain unanswered so I have to assume the answer is unknown. So, now I want to what the most numerous star system is for which we actually do know the orbital pattern, and obviously I want to know the orbital pattern.

I am NOT talking about a star with multiple planetary or other smaller bodies. I am talking about multiple STAR systems. Do we know the orbit for systems of multiple stars. Again, I'm not talking about every rock larger than a school bus. I mean STARS. Stars that have nuclear fusion occurring.

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What is the most populated/numerous stellar system in which the orbits of all objects are known?

The answer is none. Other than our own solar system, astronomers don't know if they know all of the large bodies (aka planets) orbiting any given star system. Presumably other star systems have asteroids, comets, and other stuff. The orbits of those small bodies in star systems is unknown, and will remain unknowable for a long time.

We don't even know that for our own solar system. If we did, we wouldn't have to worry about killer asteroids and comets.

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As far as I know, the system with the most stellar members is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way with 8 stars in close orbit. Of course, David Hammen is correct, and if there are other orbiting stars with much longer periods we'd have trouble determining their orbits until they started their close approaches.

At the other extreme, is a galaxy a star system? I assume no, but just thought I'd ask, since you have not defined the term. We know the orbits of quite a few stars in the Milky Way, but that's probably not what you mean.

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  • $\begingroup$ This would be answer, except that the supermassive black hole isn't and wasn't a star. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Mar 30 '16 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries - No, but the others are, so doesn't that make it a star system? $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 30 '16 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ if it does, then your second answer is the correct one and needs to be developed. I think it is clear that the question is about multiple stars though. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Mar 30 '16 at 19:26

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