Thursday, June 15, 2017

Some Stellar "Pairing" Truths Emerge -- Like Dawn -- In A Luminous Cloud, It Seems -- At First...

Of course my masthead and companion graphic overstate it just a very little bit -- for dramatic effect, here.

But a newly published paper, relying on the Very Large Array, and some of NASA's public domain Hubble space telescope data (related to the star forming region known as the Perseus Molecular Cloud), very strongly suggest -- almost as a mathematical certainty -- that stars like our sun (small to medium sized ones) are always born in pairs.

For the first million years, it seems, they dance -- revolving in an ovoid cocoon, drawing ever nearer one another (in a space-time whirlpool, of sorts) -- until either they merge into one larger sun -- or one is flung off, slingshot like -- into interstellar space.

Here's the dry technical paper's abstract, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that led me to this somehow goofily-romantic notion -- and a bit:

. . . .We explore the relationship between young, embedded binaries and their parent cores, using observations within the Perseus Molecular Cloud. We combine recently published VLA observations of young stars with core properties obtained from SCUBA-2 observations at 850 um. Most embedded binary systems are found toward the centres of their parent cores, although several systems have components closer to the core edge. Wide binaries, defined as those systems with physical separations greater than 500 au, show a tendency to be aligned with the long axes of their parent cores, whereas tight binaries show no preferred orientation. We test a number of simple, evolutionary models to account for the observed populations of Class 0 and I sources, both single and binary.

In the model that best explains the observations, all stars form initially as wide binaries. These binaries either break up into separate stars or else shrink into tighter orbits. Under the assumption that both stars remain embedded following binary breakup, we find a total star formation rate of 168 Myr^-1. Alternatively, one star may be ejected from the dense core due to binary breakup. This latter assumption results in a star formation rate of 247 Myr^-1. Both production rates are in satisfactory agreement with current estimates from other studies of Perseus. Future observations should be able to distinguish between these two possibilities. . . .

To be clear, these million year dances occur at vast distances -- far greater than the width of our current planetary system's disk. . . . burning, at a distance -- indeed -- rather than freezing, nearby. Smile. So, in that way, at least -- we humans too are a distant echo of. . . our own host star. Each of us has one, and probably only one -- formative partner. One with whom we are destined to dance. . . . for at least. . . a million years, give or take. That'll bake your noodle, right. . . .?


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