Dynamics of a massive binary at birth

Yichen Zhang, Jonathan C. Tan, Kei E.I. Tanaka, James M. De Buizer, Mengyao Liu, Maria T. Beltrán, Kaitlin Kratter, Diego Mardones, Guido Garay

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Almost all massive stars have bound stellar companions, existing in binaries or higher-order multiples1–5. While binarity is theorized to be an essential feature of how massive stars form6, essentially all information about such properties is derived from observations of already formed stars, whose orbital properties may have evolved since birth. Little is known about binarity during formation stages. Here we report high-angular-resolution observations of 1.3 mm continuum and H30α recombination line emission, which reveal a massive protobinary with apparent separation of 180 au at the centre of the massive star-forming region IRAS 07299-1651. From the line-of-sight velocity difference of 9.5 km s−1 of the two protostars, the binary is estimated to have a minimum total mass of 18 solar masses, consistent with several other metrics, and maximum period of 570 yr, assuming a circular orbit. The H30α line from the primary protostar shows kinematics consistent with rotation along a ring of radius of 12 au. The observations indicate that disk fragmentation at several hundred astronomical units may have formed the binary, and much smaller disks are feeding the individual protostars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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