Binary Statistics and Star Formation

  • Hans Zinnecker


Binary statistics, in particular the distributions of mass ratios and orbital periods, are reviewed in an attempt to obtain clues to possible star formation and cloud fragmentation processes. Various observational selection effects which hamper the establishment of the true distributions are discussed. Four different theories of binary formation are compared (fission, fragmentation, capture, and the disintegration of small star clusters), none of which can be ruled out. We conclude that there may be many ways to form binary systems. The dominant mode of binary formation could be ring fragmentation or disc fragmentation depending upon whether the distribution of mass ratios is found to decrease or to increase towards small mass ratios. Future speckle interferometric measurements of a sufficiently large sample of close visual binaries are suggested to settle this important observational question. The present paper is special in that it brings together a wealth of useful information, both observational and theoretical, in one place.


Angular Momentum Orbital Period Star Formation Triple System Globular Cluster 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Zinnecker
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal ObservatoryEdinburghScotland

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