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Journal Article

A census of main-sequence interactions in the Multiple Star Catalogue


Hamers,  Adrian S.
High Energy Astrophysics, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Hamers, A. S. (2020). A census of main-sequence interactions in the Multiple Star Catalogue. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 494(4), 5298-5313. doi:10.1093/mnras/staa1130.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-BDAD-3
Statistics of hierarchical systems containing three or more stars are continuously improving. The Multiple Star Catalogue (MSC) is currently the most comprehensive catalogue of multiple-star systems and contains component masses, orbital periods, and additional information. The systems in the MSC are interesting for several reasons, including the long-term dynamical evolution of few-body systems. Although the secular evolution of triples and quadruples has been explored before, a systematic study of the systems in the MSC including also quintuples and sextuples has not been carried out. Here, we explore the main-sequence (MS) evolution of stars from the MSC based on approximately 2 × 105 secular dynamical integrations. We estimate statistical probabilities for strong interactions during the MS such as tidal evolution and mass transfer, and the onset of dynamical instability. Depending on the assumed model for the unknown orbital elements, we find that the fraction of non-interacting systems is largest for triples (∼0.9), and decreases to ∼0.6–0.8 for sextuples. The fraction of strong interactions increases from ∼0.1 to ∼0.2 from triples to sextuples, and the fraction of dynamically unstable systems increases from ∼0.001 to ∼0.1–0.2. The larger fractions of strong interactions and dynamical instability in systems with increasing multiplicity can be attributed to increasingly complex secular evolution in these systems. Our results indicate that a significant fraction of high-multiplicity systems interact or become dynamically unstable already during the MS, with an increasing importance as the number of stars increases.