Binary Star Hypothesis Of Russell

  H.N. Russell, an American astronomer, propounded his Binary Star Hypothesis in the year 1937 to remove the shortcomings of tidal hypothesis of sir James Jeans. Russell opined that there were two stars near the primitive sun in the universe. In the beginning the ‘Companion Star’ was revolving around the primitive sun. Later on one giant star named as ‘approaching star’ came near the companion star but, the direction of revolution of the approaching star was opposite to that of the companion star. It was believed that the distance between two stars might have been about 48,00,000 to 64,00,000 km. It means that the approaching star might have been at a far greater distance from the primitive sun. Thus, there would have been no effect of tidal force of the giant approaching star on the primitive sun but large amount of matter of the companion star was attracted towards the giant approaching star because of its massive tidal force.

As the great approaching star came nearer to the companion star, the gravitational and tidal force continued to increase and hence the bulge on the outer surface of the companion star started growing towards the giant approaching star. When the giant approaching star came nearest to the companion star, large amount of matter was ejected from the companion star due to maximum gravitational force exerted by the giant approaching star. The ejected matter started revolving in the direction of the giant approaching star and thus opposite to the direction of revolution of companion star. Later on planets were formed from the ejected matter. In the beginning the planets might have been nearer to each other and thus matter might have been ejected from these planets due to their mutual attraction and thus satellites might have been formed from these matter.


In Binary Star Hypothesis Russell trying to solve the problems of distance between the planets and the sun and angular momentum of different members of the solar system by assuming the origin of the earth with the help of two stars. Besides the sun and by ejecting the required matter from the companion star to form planets but, the hypothesis has been criticized on the basis of the following points.
1. Russell has explained the formation of planets out of the matter ejected from the companion star      due to gravitational and tidal force of the giant intruding star but he did not throw light fate of the  remaining portion of the companion star.
2. According to Binary Star Hypothesis, the planets, at the time of their formation, were for off from the primitive sun. Even they were also distantly placed from each other, but, after the disappearance of the giant intruding star the planets were brought under the gravitational domain of the primitive sun. On the other hand, the residual companion star which was nearest to the primitive sun, could not come within the gravitational field of the sun. In fact, the residual companion star should have come within the gravitational domain but it did not happen. Russell was unable to resolve this contraction.
3. Russell, did not elaborate the process and mechanism through which the planets, after their    formation, were brought within the gravitational field.


  • K.Siddhartha – “The Earth’s Dynamic Surface”
  • S.Singh – Geomorphology
  • Strahler & Strahler – Physical Geography
  • M.J.Shelby – Earth’s Changing Surface

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