Two-Point Separation Functions for Modeling Wide Binary Systems in Nearby Dwarf Galaxies

Christopher Kervick*, Matthew G. Walker, Jorge Peñarrubia, Sergey E. Koposov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use a geometric method to derive (two-dimensional) separation functions amongst pairs of objects within populations of specified position function dN/dR⃗ . We present analytic solutions for separation functions corresponding to a uniform surface density within a circular field, a Plummer sphere (viewed in projection), and the mixture thereof -- including contributions from binary objects within both sub-populations. These results enable inferences about binary object populations via direct modeling of object position and pair separation data, without resorting to standard estimators of the two-point correlation function. Analyzing mock data sets designed to mimic known dwarf spheroidal galaxies, we demonstrate the ability to recover input properties including the number of wide binary star systems and, in cases where the number of resolved binary pairs is assumed to be ≳ a few hundred, characteristic features (e.g., steepening and/or truncation) of their separation function. Combined with forthcoming observational capabilities, this methodology opens a window onto the formation and/or survival of wide binary populations in dwarf galaxies, and offers a novel probe of dark matter substructure on the smallest galactic scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


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