2008 Annual Science Report
University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting | JUL 2007 – JUN 2008
Young binaries have orbital properties that still reflect their birth
conditions. We have studied such binaries in two cases: deeply
embedded newborn binaries still embedded in their nascent clouds and
young binaries in the Orion Nebula Cluster.
I have for 20 years pursued the study of young binaries, and during the past few years I have worked with my graduate student Michael Connelley (now postdoc at NASA/Ames) to push this study to ever younger targets. We have over the past year published several major papers on the youngest binaries ever studied, and have demonstrated
that such binaries have properties that reflect their birth conditions
and are different from older binaries. In another large study, we have examined the distribution of binary separations in the Orion Nebula Cluster using the Hubble Space Telescope, demonstrating that the closer to the center of the cluster, the closer are the binary components to each other, because binaries with wider separations have been disrupted by passage through the dense cluster center. This is a result predicted by numerical models, and now for the first time demonstrated empirically.