Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 488, 4740-4752 (2019/October-1)
Testing modified gravity with wide binaries in Gaia DR2.
PITTORDIS C. and SUTHERLAND W.
Abstract (from CDS):
Several recent studies have shown that very wide binary stars can potentially provide an interesting test for modified-gravity theories which attempt to emulate dark matter; these systems should be almost Newtonian according to standard dark-matter theories, while the predictions for MOND-like theories are distinctly different, if the various observational issues can be overcome. Here we explore an observational application of the test from the recent Gaia DR2 data release: we select a large sample of ∼24 000 candidate wide binary stars with distance < 200 pc and magnitudes G < 16 from Gaia DR2, and estimated component masses using a main-sequence mass-luminosity relation. We then compare the frequency distribution of pairwise relative projected velocity (relative to circular-orbit value) as a function of projected separation; these distributions show a clear peak at a value close to Newtonian expectations, along with a long 'tail' which extends to much larger velocity ratios; the 'tail' is considerably more numerous than in control samples constructed from DR2 with randomized positions, so its origin is unclear. Comparing the velocity histograms with simulated data, we conclude that MOND-like theories without an external field effect (ExFE) are strongly inconsistent with the observed data since they predict a peak-shift in clear disagreement with the data; testing MOND-like theories with an ExFE is not decisive at present, but has good prospects to become decisive in future with improved modelling or understanding of the high-velocity tail, and additional spectroscopic data.