A dearth of short-period massive binaries in the young massive star forming region M 17. Evidence for a large orbital separation at birth?

Sana, H.; Ramírez-Tannus, M. C.; de Koter, A.; Kaper, L.; Tramper, F.; Bik, A.

Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 599, L9 (2017)

ADS – Journal – arXiv


Aims: The formation of massive stars remains poorly understood and little is known about their birth multiplicity properties. Here, we aim to quantitatively investigate the strikingly low radial-velocity dispersion measured for a sample of 11 massive pre- and near-main-sequence stars (σ1D= 5.6 ± 0.2 km s-1) in the very young massive star forming region M 17, in order to obtain first constraints on the multiplicity properties of young massive stellar objects.
Methods: We compute the radial-velocity dispersion of synthetic populations of massive stars for various multiplicity properties and we compare the obtained σ1D distributions to the observed value. We specifically investigate two scenarios: a low binary fraction and a dearth of short-period binary systems.
Results: Simulated populations with low binary fractions () or with truncated period distributions (Pcutoff > 9 months) are able to reproduce the low σ1D observed within their 68%-confidence intervals. Furthermore, parent populations with fbin > 0.42 or Pcutoff < 47 d can be rejected at the 5%-significance level. Both constraints are in stark contrast with the high binary fraction and plethora of short-period systems in few Myr-old, well characterized OB-type populations. To explain the difference in the context of the first scenario would require a variation of the outcome of the massive star formation process. In the context of the second scenario, compact binaries must form later on, and the cut-off period may be related to physical length-scales representative of the bloated pre-main-sequence stellar radii or of their accretion disks.
Conclusions: If the obtained constraints for the M 17’s massive-star population are representative of the multiplicity properties of massive young stellar objects, our results may provide support to a massive star formation process in which binaries are initially formed at larger separations, then harden or migrate to produce the typical (untruncated) power-law period distribution observed in few Myr-old OB binaries.

Keywords: binaries: spectroscopic; stars: early-type; stars: formation; open clusters and associations: individual: M 17; Astrophysics – Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

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