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Fission Hypothesis of Binary Star Formation

Whitworth's (1981) Isothermal Free-Energy Surface
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Figure 1
Droplet Fission

YouTube video:
Skylab Drop Dynamics Experiment (1975)

Figure 2
Theoretical Model
Brown & Scriven (1980)
(Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 276, 389)

Figure 4
USML-1 Experiment
Wang, Anilkumar, Lee & Lin (1994)
(Proc. Roy. Soc. London, 371, 331)

Figure 3
Hachisu & Eriguchi scenario
Hachisu & Eriguchi (1984)
(Astrophysics and Space Science, 99, 71)

Related Discussions

Fission in Nuclear Physics

The nuclear physics community also draws an analogy between the fission of a rotating fluid drop and the spontaneous fission of atomic nuclei; see, for example, the figure associated with the Wikipedia discussion of the energetics of nuclear fission.

Drop Dynamics Experiments

[On 1 January 2014, J. E. Tohline wrote ...] As I was putting this chapter together, I had difficulty documenting the various drop dynamics experiments that have been conducted by astronauts in various Earth-orbiting (zero g) environments. Here is the relevant information that I have found, to date:

  • Skylab (circa 1973-1974): Experiments showing the fission of liquid drops were evidently conducted during the Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4 missions.

According to the Teacher's Guide mentioned above, the activities shown in the above-referenced films were carried out by three teams of Skylab Astronauts:

Skylab Astronauts

Kerwin blows water droplet from a straw

Skylab 2 (First Team)

  • Space Shuttle Flights: Experiments illustrating the dynamical behavior of liquid drops were also conducted during several space shuttle missions. At least some of the experiments were performed with the aid of a "Drop Physics Module (DPM)" inside the "portable" United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML) that was housed in the shuttle's payload bay.
    • Spacelab 3
      Wang, Trinh, Croonquist, and Elleman (1986; Physical Review Letters, 56, 452) report results from a controlled drop dynamics experiment that was conducted during the "Spacelab III mission" (see the final acknowledgement paragraph of their paper), which took place during shuttle flight STS-51-B (29 April - 6 May 1985). Taylor Wang — one of the authors of this PRL publication — flew as one of the seven members of the space shuttle crew, specifically as Payload Specialist 2.
    • USML-1 Droplet Fission
      Another mission — USML-1 during shuttle flight STS-50 — took place in early 1992. According to information provided by NASA/JPL's public information office, "… the transition of rotating liquid drops into a 'dog-bone,' or two-lobed shape, was studied in detail …" Detailed results from DPM experiments during the USML-1 mission have been published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics: T. G. Wang, A. V. Anilkumar, C. P. Lee and K. C. Lin (1994). Bifurcation of rotating liquid drops: results from USML-1 experiments in Space. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 276, pp 389-403
    • I think that the three-frame black & white image shown here on the right presents a result from mission USML-1. That is how this image is referenced in an online discussion of fission that I put together about a decade ago.
    • The second mission — USML-2 during shuttle flight STS-73 — took place in the fall of 1995. It does not appear as though the fission of liquid drops was an element of these USML-2 DPM experiments.
  • International Space Station (circa 2000):
    • See the two "Gallery of Fluid Motions" mpg movies that accompany the preprint by Ueno et al. (2012).

Online References

Whitworth's (1981) Isothermal Free-Energy Surface

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Recommended citation:   Tohline, Joel E. (2021), The Structure, Stability, & Dynamics of Self-Gravitating Fluids, a (MediaWiki-based) publication,

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