Contact binaries with additional components. II. A spectroscopic search for faint tertiaries.
D'ANGELO C., VAN KERKWIJK M.H. and RUCINSKI S.M.
Abstract (from CDS):
It is unclear how very close binary stars form, given that during the pre-main-sequence phase the component stars would have been inside each other. One hypothesis is that they formed farther apart but were brought in closer after formation by gravitational interaction with a third member of the system. If so, all close binaries should be members of triple (or higher order) systems. As a test of this prediction, we present a search for the signature of third components in archival spectra of close binaries. In our sample of 75 objects, 23 show evidence for the presence of a third component, down to a detection limit of tertiary flux contributions of about 0.8% at 5200 Å (considering only contact and semidetached binaries, we find 20 out of 66). In a homogeneous subset of 59 contact binaries, we are fairly confident that the 15 tertiaries we have detected are all tertiaries present with mass ratios 0.28≲M3/M12≲0.75 and implied outer periods P≲106 days. We find that if the frequency of tertiaries were the same as that of binary companions to solar-type stars, one would expect to detect about 12 tertiaries. In contrast, if all contact binaries were in triple systems, one would expect about 20. Thus, our results are not conclusive but are sufficiently suggestive to warrant further studies.
Stars: Binaries: Close - Methods: Data Analysis - Stars: Formation - Stellar Dynamics