The Frequency of Binary Stars in the Globular Cluster M71

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Session 104 -- Globilar Clusters
Display presentation, Thursday, 12, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[104.19] The Frequency of Binary Stars in the Globular Cluster M71

S.C. Barden, T.E. Armandroff (NOAO), C.P. Pryor (Rutgers)

The frequency of binary stars is a fundamental property of a stellar population. A comparison of the frequency of binaries in globular clusters with those in the field halo and disk populations tests the similarity of star formation in those environments. Binary stars in globular clusters also act as an energy source which ``heats" the cluster through super-elastic encounters with other stars and binaries. Such encounters can not only profoundly affect the dynamical evolution of the cluster, they can disrupt the widely separated binaries and catalyze the formation of exotic objects such as blue stragglers, x-ray binaries, and milli-second pulsars.

We have used the KPNO 4-m and the multi-fiber instruments Nessie and Hydra to measure radial velocities at 4 epochs over two years for a sample of 126 stars in the globular cluster M71. Velocity errors are under 1~km~s$^{-1}$ for the brighter stars and under 2~km~s$^{-1}$ for the majority of our data set. These velocities will be valuable for studying the kinematics of M71, but here we focus on searching for binaries. The faintest stars are at V=17, or just above the main sequence turnoff. Our sample is thus deeper than any published globular cluster binary search utilizing spectroscopic techniques. By observing smaller stars, we double the number of decades of binary periods sampled compared to previous studies and come within a factor of 4 of the shortest possible periods for turnoff stars.

This wider period window has produced the largest known sample of binaries in a globular cluster. Four stars show velocity ranges larger than 20 km~s$^{-1}$, nine have ranges larger than 10 km~s$^{-1}$, and others are clearly variable. We will compare the radial distribution of these stars to that predicted by theory and derive the main-sequence binary fraction.

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