The Brightest Binaries
The evolution of galaxies is governed mainly by the evolution of massive stars whereas the evolution of a massive star depends primarily on its mass, chemical composition and on whether or not the star is a Single object or a binary component. To study the evolution of galaxies, it is therefore essential to know how stellar masses are distributed at birth, how many stars are formed in binaries, and what the mass ratio and orbital period distribution of binaries look like. Massive stars are intrinsically the brightest stars, so that it may be possible to discover their properties in distant groups prOvided that large telescopes can be used for basic stellar observations. However, until now the observations of massive stars have been reasonably complete only for a small region of our own Galaxy (~ 3 kpc from the Sun). One hopes that the conclusions resulting from these observations hold for the whole Galaxy, for the whole cosmos. With 'The Brightest Stars' of De Jager (1980) in mind, the present monograph is an addendum and an update in which we discuss the observations of 'The Brightest Binaries' in the framework of stellar evolution. A small or intermediate mass star close to the Sun may look brighter than a massive one far away. However, within volume limited star samples, the massive stars are on average also the brightest ones. In the present monograph (similarly as in the work of De Jager), bright means massive. The book consists of four main chapters.