Mira variables, RR Lyrae variables, and type II Cepheids all represent evolved states of low-mass stars, and long term observations have revealed that changes in pulsation period occur for each of these classes of variable. Most Mira variables show small or no period changes, but a few show large period changes that can plausibly be associated with thermal pulses on the asymptotic red giant branch. Individual RR Lyrae stars show period changes that do not accord with the predictions of stellar evolution theory. This may be especially true for RR Lyrae stars that exhibit the Blazhko effect. However, the average period changes of all of the RR Lyrae variables within a globular cluster prove a better but still imperfect match for the predictions of evolutionary theory. The observed period changes of short period type II Cepheids (BL Her stars) as well as those of long period type II Cepheids (W Vir stars) are in broad agreement with the rates of period changes expected from their evolutionary motions through the instability strip.
Author: Horace A. Smith