Dynamics of a massive binary at birth
Journal article, 2019
Almost all massive stars have bound stellar companions, existing in binaries or higher-order multiples(1-5). While binarity is theorized to be an essential feature of how massive stars form(6), 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 H30 alpha 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 H30 alpha 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.