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 Formation of the Widest Binaries from Dynamical Unfolding of Triple Systems


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The formation of very wide binaries, such as the alpha Cen system with Proxima (also known as alpha Centauri C) separated from alpha Centauri (which itself is a close binary A-B) by 15000 AU, challenges current theories of star formation, because their separation can exceed the typical size of a collapsing cloud core. Various hypotheses have been proposed to overcome this problem, including the suggestion that ultra-wide binaries result from the dissolution of a star cluster - when a cluster star gravitationally captures another, distant, cluster star. Recent observations have shown that very wide binaries are frequently members of triple systems and that close binaries often have a distant third companion. Here we report Nbody simulations of the dynamical evolution of newborn triple systems still embedded in their nascent cloud cores that match observations of very wide systems. We find that although the triple systems are born very compact - and therefore initially are more protected against disruption by passing stars - they can develop extreme hierarchical architectures on timescales of millions of years as one component is dynamically scattered into a very distant orbit. The energy of ejection comes from shrinking the orbits of the other two stars, often making them look from a distance like a single star. Such loosely bound triple systems will therefore appear to be very wide binaries.



Author: Bo Reipurth; Seppo Mikkola

Source: https://archive.org/







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