Young Binary Stars And Associated Disks

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Protostars And Planets IV


The typical product of the star formation process is a binary star. Binaries have provided the first dynamical measures of the masses of pre-main-sequence (PMS) stars, providing support for the calibrations of PMS evolutionary tracks. Surprisingly, in some star-forming regions PMS binary frequencies are higher than among main-sequence solar-type stars. The difference in PMS and main-sequence binary frequencies is apparently not an evolutionary effect; recent attention has focussed on correlations between binary frequency and stellar density or cloud temperatures. Accretion disks are common among young binary stars. Binaries with separations between 1 AU and 100 AU have substantially less submillimeter emission than closer or wider binaries, suggesting that they have truncated their disks. Evidence of dynamical clearing has been seen in several binaries. Remarkably, PMS binaries of all separations show evidence of circumstellar disks and continued accretion. This suggests that the circumstellar disks are replenished from circumbinary disks or envelopes. The frequent presence of disks suggests that planet formation can occur in binary environments, and formation of planets in wide binaries is already established by their discovery. Circumbinary disk masses around very short period binaries are ample to form planetary systems such as our own. The nature of planetary systems among the most common binaries, with separations between 10 AU and 100 AU, is less clear given the observed reduction in disk mass, though they may have disk masses adequate for the formation of terrestrial-like planets.