Are Vampire Stars and Symbiotic Stars the same type of star or is there a difference?

Vampire Stars siphon off hydrogen from its neighbour. According to https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~kenyon/ss/, Symbiotic Stars seem like the same description.

"In all systems, the hot component - a main sequence star, a white dwarf, or a neutron star - accretes material lost by the red giant." (Harvard)

SS Leporis has been described as Symbiotic Star and in some places as Vampire Stars.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you tell us where you've heard the term "vampire star" used before? As I understand it, "symbiotic binary" is a technical term; "vampire star" is almost certainly just something used in magazine articles. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ Am pretty certain that I first time I heard it was watching episode 5... imdb.com/title/tt1832668/episodes?season=5 . The term Vampire Star is used by a lot of places including E.S.O. eso.org/public/unitedkingdom/news/eso1148 . I'm trying work out if they're terms for the same thing. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ AFAIK all those are roch-lobe overflow binaries, and nothing more. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


As the title of the research paper linked to in the ESO press release is "An incisive look at the symbiotic star SS Leporis", it is safe to conclude that they are the same type of star. My suspicion is that, since symbiotic stars transfer and accrete mass via either Roche-lobe overflow or stellar wind overflow, the term "vampire star" was coined as part of the press release as a "cute" way to imply that one star is "feeding" on another.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .