High-mass binaries in the very young open cluster NGC 6231. Implication for cluster and star formation
New radial-velocity observations of 37 O- and B stars in the very young open cluster NGC 6231 confirm the high frequency of short-period spectroscopic binaries on the upper main sequence. Among the 14 O-type stars, covering all luminosity classes from dwarfs to supergiants, 8 are definitively double-lined systems and all periods but one are shorter than 7 days. Several additional binaries have been detected among the early B-type stars. NGC 6231 is an exceptional cluster to constrain the scenarios of cluster- and binary-star formation over a large range of stellar masses. We discuss the evidences, based on NGC 6231 and 21 other clusters, with a total of 120 O-type stars, for a clear dichotomy in the multiplicity rate and structure of very young open clusters containing O-type stars in function of the number of massive stars. However, we cannot answer the question whether the observed characteristics result from the formation processes or from the early dynamical evolution.