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Astron. Astrophys. 334, 169-172 (1998)

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Mass ratios in multiple star systems

M.J. Valtonen

Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku, FIN-21500 Piikkiö, Finland

Received 4 December 1997 / Accepted 10 February 1998


Recently a catalogue of 612 physical multiple stars was published by Tokovinin. The systems are generally hierarchical, i.e. they consist of binaries of different hierarchy levels. We have studied the mass ratios of the hierarchical binaries as a diagnostic of the origin of the multiple systems. The three-body statistical break-up theory is used to obtain likely mass ratio distributions in dynamically strongly interacting systems. A comparison with the catalogue data shows good agreement between theory and observations. This tells us that the multiple stars of the catalogue are not primordial but their properties are results of dynamical interactions where the three-body ejection process plays a key role.

Key words: binaries: general – celestial mechanics, stellar mechanics

Send offprint requests to: M.J. Valtonen

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: May 12, 1998