Fission and the Origin of Binary Stars

  • Jeremiah P. Ostriker


Brief reviews of the classical ‘angular momentum problem’ and the statistics of upper-main-sequence binaries are presented as background for the suggestion that the close, early-type, binaries are produced by fission of rapidly rotating protostars.

Next, theoretical sequences of contracting, rotating stars are described. Recent work demonstrates that the zero-viscosity, polytropic sequences, have essentially the same properties as the McLaurin sequence. Thus, fission is possible for centrally condensed stars. Observations of close early-type binaries are compared with theoretical predictions for the minimum angular momentum in binary systems of given total mass; the agreement is excellent.

Finally, the existing theoretical objections to the fission hypothesis for the origin of binary stars are reviewed, and it is concluded that, although fission remains unproven, there are now no strong theoretical arguments against the process, and there is considerable observational support for its existence.


Angular Momentum Main Sequence Binary Star Contraction Phase Angular Momentum Transport 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremiah P. Ostriker
    • 1
  1. 1.Princeton University ObservatoryUSA

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