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The dynamical fate of wide binaries in the solar neighborhood
Weinberg, Martin D.; Shapiro, Stuart L.; Wasserman, Ira
AA(Cornell University, Ithaca, NY), AB(Cornell University, Ithaca, NY), AC(Cornell University, Ithaca, NY)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 312, Jan. 1, 1987, p. 367-389. Research supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Astrodynamics, Binary Stars, Solar Neighborhood, Stellar Evolution, Stellar Models, Molecular Clouds, Monte Carlo Method, Nemesis (Star), Oort Cloud, Perturbation, Tides
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The authors explore the evolution of wide binaries in the solar neighborhood driven by perturbations from passing stars and giant molecular clouds. They develop a Monte Carlo technique which exploits the fact that most perturbers encounter a wide binary at large impact parameter so that their cumulative effect may be described as a diffusion process. The rare catastrophic encounters are treated individually. It is shown that the effects of stars and clouds interact in disrupting a binary. Two possible evolutionary scenarios for the population of wide binaries are studied: (1) a "burst" model, in which a particular distribution of binaries in semimajor axis is created initially and evolved; and (2) a "continuous creation" model, in which a population is continuously created with a particular distribution in semimajor axes. The authors also address the period stability and lifetime of the proposed solar companion.

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