Tidal effects in binary star systems

  • Gerhard Schäfer
Tides In Outer Space
Part of the Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences book series (LNEARTH, volume 66)


Accelerations in gravitational fields are usually treated as resulting from the gravitational force. The “true” gravitational force, however, is a tidal force which cannot be transformed away by going over to an accelerated reference frame, nor does it need nongravitational forces to act (e.g., the gravitational force acting on a body at rest in the gravitational field of a star is acting in reaction to the nongravitational force which keeps the body at rest). The tidal force is a relative force, acting between neighbouring points. According to the Einstein theory of gravitation, the tidal force is intimately connected with the curvature of spacetime, and gravitation is nothing but this curvature. In spacetimes without curvature only inertial forces (e.g., centrifugal and Coriolis forces) exist; sometimes they are called fictitious.

In binary star systems the tidal force plays an important role. Processes which result from this force comprise capture, stripping, disruption, and dissipation effects as well as resonances between orbital motion and star oscillations. The orbital period damping connected with the gravitational radiation emission is a tidal effect too.

The references cited below allow of a comprehensive insight into the problem of tidal effects in binary star systems.


Black Hole Neutron Star Gravitational Field Gravitational Force Tidal Effect 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Schäfer
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Arbeitsgruppe GravitationstheorieFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany

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