Sheliak (Beta Lyrae) is a binary star system
approximately 882 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. Beta
Lyrae is traditionally named Sheliak which is Arabic for "Harp." It is
a contact binary star whose two components are of spectral class B7 and
The Beta Lyrae system (Sheliak system) could also be
home of the Sheliak race. The Sheliak are a vaguely humanoid R3-type
lifeform. The Sheliak are a reclusive people, avoiding contact with the
Federation whenever possible. This may be due to the Sheliak attitude
that humanoids are an inferior form of life. The Treaty of Armens was
established in 2255 between the Sheliak and the Federation which ceded
several worlds to the Sheliak. There was virtually no contact with the
Sheliak for over a century thereafter, until they demanded that a
Federation colony on Tau Cygna V be removed. Sheliak colonists refer to
themselves as "the Membership" and they have a governing body called
"the Corporate". Their homeworld is located in the Shelia star system.
(TNG: "The Ensigns of Command"). Unlike most humanoids, the Sheliak
prefer to exist in an environment that is the same temperature as their
bodies. (TNG: "Starship Mine")
Beta Lyrae is an eclipsing contact binary star system made up of a
blue-white dwarf (B7V) star and a white main sequence (A8V) star. The
two stars are close enough that material from the photosphere of each
is pulled towards the other, drawing the stars into an ellipsoid shape.
Beta Lyrae is the prototype for this class of eclipsing binaries, whose
components are so close together that they deform by their mutual
Beta Lyrae changes its apparent magnitude from +3.4 to
+4.6 over a period of 12.9075 days. The system also has a third star,
at an angular distance of 45.7", which is of spectral type B7V and has
an apparent magnitude of +7.2 and can easily be seen with binoculars.
On the other hand the two components of the main star are so close
together that they cannot be resolved with optical telescopes, forming
a spectroscopic binary.