Most stars exist in binary pairs today — and new research indicates that may have been true for a very long time. This simulation of a primordial star forming region about 200 million years after the Big Bang shows two pre-stellar cores of more than five times the mass of the sun each. The cores formed at a separation of 800 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and are expected to evolve into a binary star system.
Most previous simulations of the early universe, in which clouds of primordial gas collapsed to form the first luminous objects, suggest that early stars formed separately from each other.
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Lead author Matthew Turk, of Stanford University, and his colleagues performed computer simulations during which a central clump of primordial material about 50 times the mass of the Sun breaks into two cores with a mass ratio of two to one. Both are able to cool and plump up, by accreting matter from the surrounding cold gas reservoir, “and will likely form a binary star system,” the authors write.
The findings may also have implications for detecting both gravity waves — disturbances predicted by general relativity, which haven’t yet been detected directly — and the ultra-energetic explosions known as gamma ray bursts, since binary systems are thought to be at the origins of both of these phenomena.
Image credit: © Science/AAAS
Source: Science, via Eurekalert.