Sheliak

   

 

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 A8.

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 gravitation.

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.