Born to Be Wide: The Distribution of Wide Binaries in the Field and Soft Binaries in Clusters

Mor Rozner, Hagai B. Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most stars, binaries, and higher-multiplicity systems are thought to form in stellar clusters and associations that later dissociate. Very wide binaries can be easily disrupted in clusters due to dynamical evaporation (soft binaries) and/or tidal disruption by the gravitational potential of the cluster. Nevertheless, wide binaries are quite frequent in the field, where they can sometimes play a key role in the formation of compact binaries and serve as tools to study key physical processes. Here we use analytic tools to study the dynamical formation of soft binaries in clusters and their survival as field binaries following cluster dispersion. We derive the expected properties of very wide binaries both in clusters and in the field. We analytically derive their detailed distributions, including the wide binary fraction as a function of mass in different cluster environments, binary mass functions and mass ratios, and the distribution of their orbital properties. We show that our calculations agree well in most aspects with the results of N-body simulations but show some different binary fraction dependence on the cluster mass. We find that the overall fraction of wide binaries scales as µN-1, where Nå is the size of the cluster, even for non-equal-mass stars. More massive stars are more likely to capture wide companions, with most stars above 5 Me likely to capture at least one stellar companion, and formation of triples is found to be frequent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Multiple stars (1081)
  • Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Binary stars (154)
  • Wide binary stars (1801)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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