Evolution of the binary fraction in dense stellar systems

John M. Fregeau, Natalia Ivanova, Frederic A. Rasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Using our recently improved Monte Carlo evolution code, we study the evolution of the binary fraction in globular clusters. In agreement with previous N-body simulations, we find generally that the hard binary fraction in the core tends to increase with time over a range of initial cluster central densities for initial binary fractions ≲90%. The dominant processes driving the evolution of the core binary fraction are mass segregation of binaries into the cluster core and preferential destruction of binaries there. On a global scale, these effects and the preferential tidal stripping of single stars tend to roughly balance, leading to overall cluster binary fractions that are roughly constant with time. Our findings suggest that the current hard binary fraction near the half-mass radius is a good indicator of the hard primordial binary fraction. However, the relationship between the true binary fraction and the fraction of main-sequence stars in binaries (which is typically what observers measure) is nonlinear and rather complicated. We also consider the importance of soft binaries, which not only modify the evolution of the binary fraction, but can also drastically change the evolution of the cluster as a whole. Finally, we briefly describe the recent addition of single and binary stellar evolution to our cluster evolution code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1533-1540
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Globular clusters: general
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stellar dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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