Dynamical formation of close binaries during the pre-main-sequence phase

Maxwell Moe, Kaitlin M. Kratter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solar-type binaries with short orbital periods (Pclose≡ 1 - 10 days; a ≲ 0.1 AU) cannot form directly via fragmentation of molecular clouds or protostellar disks, yet their component masses are highly correlated, suggesting interaction during the pre-main-sequence (pre-MS) phase. Moreover, the close binary fraction of pre-MS stars is consistent with that of their MS counterparts in the field (Fclose= 2.1%). Thus we can infer that some migration mechanism operates during the early pre-MS phase (τ ≲ 5 Myr) that reshapes the primordial separation distribution. We test the feasibility of this hypothesis by carrying out a population synthesis calculation which accounts for two formation channels: Kozai-Lidov (KL) oscillations and dynamical instability in triple systems. Our models incorporate (1) more realistic initial conditions compared to previous studies, (2) octupole-level effects in the secular evolution, (3) tidal energy dissipation via weak-friction equilibrium tides at small eccentricities and via non-radial dynamical oscillations at large eccentricities, and (4) the larger tidal radius of a pre-MS primary. Given a 15% triple star fraction, we simulate a close binary fraction from KL oscillations alone of Fclose≈ 0.4% after τ = 5 Myr, which increases to Fclose≈ 0.8% by τ = 5 Gyr. Dynamical ejections and disruptions of unstable coplanar triples in the disk produce solitary binaries with slightly longer periods P ≈ 10 - 100 days. The remaining ≈60% of close binaries with outer tertiaries, particularly those in compact coplanar configurations with log Pout(days) ≈ 2 - 5 (aout< 50 AU), can be explained only with substantial extra energy dissipation due to interactions with primordial gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jun 29 2017


  • Binaries: Close
  • Kinematics and dynamics
  • Pre-main-sequence
  • Stars: Formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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