17 Leporis is a complex and active binary system, consisting of a hot white main sequence star and a redgiant. These two stars follow a very close mutual orbit at a distance comparable to that of the Earth around the Sun, a cycle that takes 260 days to complete. This extreme proximity to one another means that matter from the redgiant is being transferred to the whitestar, a phenomenon that makes this system a symbiotic binary.
This transfer of matter between the stars gives rise to sudden and unpredictable outbursts of energy, causing the system's brightness to increase at times by a fifth of a magnitude. This kind of behaviour causes the star to be classified as a 'cataclysmic' variable, and specifically a variable star of the Z Andromedae type. It is therefore assigned a variable star designation, SS Leporis. The two close stars at the heart of the binary system are surrounded by a shell of material extending out into space.