Volume 379, Number 1, November III 2001
|Page(s)||147 - 161|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters, and populations|
|Published online||15 November 2001|
Visual binaries among high-mass stars
An adaptive optics survey of OB stars in the NGC 6611 cluster
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
2 Division of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1562, USA
3 Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
4 Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
Corresponding author: G. Duchêne, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 19 September 2001
We have searched for visual binaries with projected separations in the range 200-3000 AU (01-15) among a sample of 96 stars in the massive young NGC 6611 cluster, 60 of them being subsequently identified as high probability cluster members of mainly OB spectral type. This is the first visual binary survey among such a large and homogeneous sample of high-mass stars. We find an uncorrected binary frequency of % over the surveyed separation range. Considering only binaries with mass ratios , we find that OB stars in NGC 6611 host more companions than solar-type field stars. We derive mass ratios for the detected binaries from their near-infrared flux ratios and conclude that about half of the detected binaries have , which does not contradict the assumption that companion masses are randomly drawn from the initial mass function. There is no evidence in our sample that wide-binary properties depend upon the mass of the primary star. The high frequency of massive binaries in a cluster as rich as NGC 6611 and the lack of a strong mass dependence of their properties are difficult to reconcile with the scenario whereby massive stars form as the result of mergers of smaller stars. The canonical protostellar accretion scenario together with cloud fragmentation, on the other hand, can naturally explain most of the observed binary properties, although the very high stellar density in the protocluster is likely to require significant modification to that picture as well.
Key words: stars: binaries: visual / stars: formation / stars: early-type / Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: NGC 6611
© ESO, 2001
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