51 Eridani and GJ 3305: A 10-15 Myr old binary star system at 30 parsecs

E. D. Feigelson, W. A. Lawson, M. Stark, L. Townsley, G. P. Garmire

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49 Scopus citations


Following the suggestion of Zuckerman and coworkers, we consider the evidence that 51 Eri (spectral type P0) and GJ 3305 (M0), historically classified as unrelated main-sequence stars in the solar neighborhood, are instead a wide physical binary system and members of the young β Pic moving group (BPMG). The BPMG is the nearest (d ≲ 50 pc) of several groups of young stars with ages around 10 Myr that are kinematically convergent with the Oph-Sco-Cen association (OSCA), the nearest OB star association. Combining South African Astronomical Observatory optical photometry, Hobby-Eberly Telescope high-resolution spectroscopy, Chandra X-Ray Observatory data, and Second US Naval Observatory CCD Astrograph Catalog kinematics, we confirm with high confidence that the system is indeed extremely young. GJ 3305 itself exhibits very strong magnetic activity but has rapidly depleted most of its lithium. The 51 Eri/GJ 3305 system is the westernmost known member of the OSCA, lying 110 pc from the main subgroups. The system is similar to the BPMG wide binary HD 172555/CD -64 1208 and the HD 104237 quintet, suggesting that dynamically fragile multiple systems can survive the turbulent environments of their natal giant molecular cloud complexes, while still having high dispersion velocities imparted. Nearby young systems such as these are excellent targets for evolved circumstellar disk and planetary studies, having stellar ages comparable to that of the late phases of planet formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1730-1739
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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