We present results of a high-resolution, near-infrared survey of 41 nearby, young (≲300 Myr) M0-M5.0 dwarfs using the Altair natural guide star adaptive optics system at the Gemini North telescope. Twelve of the objects appear to be binaries, seven of which are reported here for the first time. One triple system was discovered. Statistical properties are studied and compared with earlier (F to K) and later (≥M6 very low mass [VLM]) populations. We find that the separation distribution of the binaries in this sample peaks at 13-9+14 AD, which is consistent with previous measurements of early M binaries. Hence, early M binaries seem to occur in - on average - tighter systems than G binaries. At the same time they are significantly wider than field VLM binary stars. The distribution of mass ratios q of primary and secondary stars was found to show an intermediate distribution between the strongly q → 1 peaked distribution of field VLM systems and the almost flat distribution of earlier type stars. Consequently, we show evidence for relatively young, early M binaries representing a transition between the well-known earlier star distributions and the recently examined field VLM population characteristics. Despite the fact that this survey was dedicated to the search for faint brown dwarf and planetary mass companions, all planetary mass candidates were background objects. We exclude the existence of physical companions with masses greater than 10 Jupiter masses (MJ) at separations of ≳40 AU and masses greater than 24MJ for separations ≳10 AU around 37 of the 41 observed objects.
- Binaries: general
- Instrumentation: adaptive optics
- Stars: late-type
- Stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science