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Astrobiology researchers show how wide binary stars form

from University of Hawaii

Researchers in the US and Finland have used computer simulations to come up with a mechanism that accounts for the formation of wide binaries. In their model most stars are initially formed in small compact multiple systems with two, three or even more stars at the center of a cloud core. When more than two stars are together in a small space, they gravitationally pull on each other in a chaotic dance, where the lightest body is often kicked out to the outskirts of the core for long periods of time before falling back into the fray. What then happens simultaneously, depending on the amount and energy of the gas, is that small bodies are ejected to wide orbits, while the core continues to accrete gas to make bigger stars. The larger bodies may eventually merge, and the smaller ones may be ejected to such wide orbits that they never return. So a 3-star system, which is actually a close binary and a single star in a wide orbit, eventually may become a 2-star system due to the merger of the close pair. The work is reported in Nature. more

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