Home People MRB Publications Binaryprop binaryprop.html

Predicting the Properties of Binary Stellar Systems: The Evolution of Accreting Protobinary Systems

Matthew R. Bate

Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 314, 33-53 (2000)


We investigate the formation of binary stellar systems. We consider a model where a `seed' protobinary system forms, via fragmentation, within a collapsing molecular cloud core and evolves to its final mass by accreting material from an infalling gaseous envelope. This accretion alters the mass ratio and orbit of the binary, and is largely responsible for forming the circumstellar and/or circumbinary discs.

Given this model for binary formation, we predict the properties of binary systems and how they depend on the initial conditions within the molecular cloud core. We predict that there should be a continuous trend such that closer binaries are more likely to have equal mass components and are more likely to have circumbinary discs than wider systems. Comparing our results to observations, we find that the observed mass-ratio distributions of binaries and the frequency of circumbinary discs as a function of separation are most easily reproduced if the progenitor molecular cloud cores have radial density profiles between uniform and $1/r$ (e.g. Gaussian) with near uniform-rotation. This is in good agreement with the observed properties of pre-stellar cores. Conversely, we find that the observed properties of binaries cannot be reproduced if the cloud cores are in solid-body rotation and have initial density profiles which are strongly centrally condensed. Finally, in agreement with the radial-velocity searches for extra-solar planets, we find that it is very difficult to form a brown dwarf companion to a solar-type star with a separation $\simless 10$ AU, but that the frequency of brown dwarf companions should increase with larger separations or lower mass primaries.

Click here for a gzipped postscript (1770k) version of the paper.

Validate   Link-check © Copyright & disclaimer Privacy & cookies Share