The primordial binary population I. A near-infrared adaptive optics search for close visual companions to a star members of Scorpius OB2

M. B.N. Kouwenhoven*, A. G.A. Brown, H. Zinnecker, L. Kaper, S. F.Portegies Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of a near-infrared adaptive optics survey with the aim to detect close companions to Hipparcos members in the three subgroups of the nearby OB association Sco OB2: Upper Scorpius (US), Upper Centaurus Lupus (UCL) and Lower Centaurus Crux (LCC). We have targeted 199 A-type and late B-type stars in the Ks band, and a subset also in the J and H band. We find 151 stellar components other than the target stars. A brightness criterion is used to separate these components into 77 background stars and 74 candidate physical companion stars. Out of these 74 candidate companions, 41 have not been reported before (14 in US; 13 in UCL; 14 in LCC). The angular separation between primaries and observed companion stars ranges from 0.22″ to 12.4″. At the mean distance of Sco OB2 (130 pc) this corresponds to a projected separation of 28.6 AU to 1612 AU. Absolute magnitudes are derived for all primaries and observed companions using the parallax and interstellar extinction for each star individually. For each object we derive the mass from KS, assuming an age of 5 Myr for the US subgroup, and 20 Myr for the UCL and LCC subgroups. Companion star masses range from 0.10 M⊙ to 3.0 M⊙. The mass ratio distribution follows f(q) = q with Γ = 0.33, which excludes random pairing. No close (p ≤ 3.75″) companion stars or background stars are found in the magnitude range 12 mag ≤ Ks ≤ 14 mag. The lack of stars with these properties cannot be explained by low-number statistics, and may imply a lower limit on the companion mass of ∼-0.1 M⊙. Close stellar components with Ks > 14 mag are observed. If these components are very low-mass companion stars, a gap in the companion mass distribution might be present. The small number of close low-mass companion stars could support the embryoejection formation scenario for brown dwarfs. Our findings are compared with and complementary to visual, spectroscopic, and astrometric data on binarity in Sco OB2. We find an overall companion star fraction of 0.52 in this association. This is a lower limit since the data from the observations and from literature are hampered by observational biases and selection effects. This paper is the first step toward our goal to derive the primordial binary population in Sco OB2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-154
Number of pages18
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxy: open clusters and associations: general
  • Stars: binaries: general
  • Stars: binaries: visual
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: individual: Sco OB2


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