Population II stars are old, metal-poor, Galactic halo stars with high proper motion. We have carried out a visual binary survey of 164 halo stars in the solar neighborhood (median distance 100 pc), using infrared speckle interferometry, adaptive optics, and wide field direct imaging. The sample is based on the lists of Population II stars of Carney et al. (1994) and Norris (1986), with reliable distances from HIPPARCOS measurements.
At face value, we found 33 binaries, 6 triples, and 1 quadruple system. When we limit ourselves to K-band flux ratios larger than 0.1 (to avoid background contamination), the numbers drop to 9 binaries and 1 triple, corresponding to a binary frequency of 6–7% above our angular resolution limit of about 0.1 arcsec. If we count all systems with K-band flux ratios greater than 0.01, we obtain 15 more binaries and 3 more triples, corresponding to a binary frequency for projected separations in excess of 10 AU of around 20 %. This is to be compared with the frequency of spectroscopic binaries (up to a period of 3000 days) of Population II stars of about 15 % (Latham et al. 2002). We also determined a semi-major axis distribution for our visual Population II binary and triple systems, which appears to be remarkably different from that of Population I stars. Second epoch-observations must help confirm the reality of our results.