BD -22 5866: A low-mass, quadruple-lined spectroscopic and eclipsing binary

Evgenya Shkolnik, Michael C. Liu, I. Neill Reid, Leslie Hebb, Andrew C. Cameron, Carlos A. Torres, David M. Wilson

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25 Citations (Scopus)


We report our discovery of an extremely rare, low-mass, quadruple-lined spectroscopic binary BD -22 5866 (=NLTT 53279, integrated spectral type = M0 V), found during an ongoing search for the youngest M dwarfs in the solar neighborhood. From the cross-correlation function, we are able to measure relative flux levels, estimate the spectral types of the components, and set upper limits on the orbital periods and separations. The resulting system is hierarchical, composed of a K7 + K7 binary and an M1 + M2 binary with semimajor axes of a(A) sin i(A) <= 0.06 and a(B) sin i(B) <= 0: 30 AU. A subsequent search of the SuperWASP photometric database revealed that the K7 + K7 binary is eclipsing with a period of 2.21 days and at an inclination angle of 85 degrees. Within uncertainties of 5%, the masses and radii of both components appear to be equal (0.59M(circle dot), 0.61 R-circle dot). These two tightly orbiting stars (a = 0.035 AU) are in synchronous rotation, causing the observed excess Ca II, H alpha, X-ray, and UV emission. The fact that the system was unresolved with published adaptive optics imaging, limits the projected physical separation of the two binaries at the time of the observation to d(AB) <= 4.1 AU at the photometric distance of 51 pc. The maximum observed radial velocity difference between the A and B binaries limits the orbit to a(AB) sin i(AB) <= 6.1 AU. As this tight configuration is difficult to reproduce with current formation models of multiple systems, we speculate that an early dynamical process reduced the size of the system, such as the interaction of the two binaries with a circumquadruple disk. Intensive photometric, spectroscopic, and interferometric monitoring, as well as a parallax measurement of this rare quadruple system, is certainly warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1248-1255
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • binaries : eclipsing
  • binaries : spectroscopic
  • stars : activity
  • stars : individual (BD-22 5866)
  • stars : late-type
  • stars : low-mass, brown dwarfs


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