152 research outputs found

    A common-envelope wind model for Type Ia supernovae (I): binary evolution and birth rate

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    The single-degenerate (SD) model is one of the principal models for the progenitors of type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), but some of the predictions in the most widely studied version of the SD model, i.e. the optically thick wind (OTW) model, have not been confirmed by observations. Here, we propose a new version of the SD model in which a common envelope (CE) is assumed to form when the mass-transfer rate between a carbon-oxygen white dwarf (CO WD) and its companion exceeds a critical accretion rate. The WD may gradually increase its mass at the base of the CE. Due to the large nuclear luminosity for stable hydrogen burning, the CE may expand to giant dimensions and will lose mass from the surface of the CE by a CE wind (CEW). Because of the low CE density, the binary system will avoid a fast spiral-in phase and finally re-emerge from the CE phase. Our model may share the virtues of the OTW model but avoid some of its shortcomings. We performed binary stellar evolution calculations for more than 1100 close WD + MS binaries. Compared with the OTW model, the parameter space for SNe Ia from our CEW model extends to more massive companions and less massive WDs. Correspondingly, the Galactic birth rate from the CEW model is higher than that from the OTW model by ∌\sim30\%. Finally, we discuss the uncertainties of the CEW model and the differences between our CEW model and the OTW model.Comment: 28 pages, 24 figures, accepted for publication in MNRA

    Common-Envelope Evolution: the Nucleosynthesis in Mergers of Massive Stars

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    We study the merging of massive stars inside a common envelope for binary systems consisting of a red supergiant with a mass of 15-20 Msun and a main-sequence companion of 1-5 Msun. We are particularly interested in the stage when the secondary, having overfilled its Roche lobe inside the common envelope, starts to transfer mass to the core of the primary at a very high mass-transfer rate and the subsequent nucleo-synthesis in the core-impact region. Using a parametrized model for the structure of the envelope at this stage, we perform 2-dimensional hydrodynamical calculations with the Munich Prometheus code to calculate the dynamics of the stream emanating from the secondary and its impact on the core of the primary. We find that, for the lower end of the estimated mass-transfer rate, low-entropy, hydrogen-rich material can penetrate deep into the primary core where nucleosynthesis through the hot CNO cycle can take place and that the associated neutron exposure may be sufficiently high for significant s-processing. For mass-transfer rates at the high end of our estimated range and higher densities in the stream, the stream impact can lead to the dredge-up of helium, but the neutron production is too low for significant s-processing.Comment: 5 pages, 2 figures, to appear in the proceeding of ``Binary and Multiple Star Systems'' (Bormio (Italy), June 2000

    Cataclysmic Variables with Evolved Secondaries and the Progenitors of AM CVn Stars

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    We present the results of a systematic study of cataclysmic variables (CVs) and related systems, combining detailed binary-population synthesis (BPS) models with a grid of 120 binary evolution sequences calculated with a Henyey-type stellar evolution code. In these sequences, we used 3 masses for the white dwarf (0.6, 0.8, 1.0 Msun) and seven masses for the donor star in the range of 0.6-1.4 Msun. The shortest orbital periods were chosen to have initially unevolved secondaries, and the longest orbital period for each secondary mass was taken to be just longer than the bifurcation period (16 - 22 hr), beyond which systems evolve towards long orbital periods. These calculations show that systems which start with evolved secondaries near the end or just after their main-sequence phase become ultra-compact systems with periods as short as 7 min. These systems are excellent candidates for AM CVn stars. Using a standard BPS code, we show how the properties of CVs at the beginning of mass transfer depend on the efficiency for common-envelope (CE) ejection and the efficiency of magnetic braking. In our standard model, where CE ejection is efficient, some 10 per cent of all CVs have initially evolved secondaries (with a central hydrogen abundance X_c < 0.4) and ultimately become ultra-compact systems (implying a Galactic birthrate for AM CVn-like stars of 10^{-3} yr^{-1}). Almost all CVs with orbital periods longer than 5 hr are found to have initially evolved or relatively massive secondaries. We show that their distribution of effective temperatures is in good agreement with the distribution of spectral types obtained by Beuermann et al. (1998).Comment: 16 pages, 6 figures (Fig. 4 in reduced format). Submitted to MNRA

    On the role of recombination in common-envelope ejections

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    The energy budget in common-envelope events (CEEs) is not well understood, with substantial uncertainty even over to what extent the recombination energy stored in ionised hydrogen and helium might be used to help envelope ejection. We investigate the reaction of a red-giant envelope to heating which mimics limiting cases of energy input provided by the orbital decay of a binary during a CEE, specifically during the post-plunge-in phase during which the spiral-in has been argued to occur on a time-scale longer than dynamical. We show that the outcome of such a CEE depends less on the total amount of energy by which the envelope is heated than on how rapidly the energy was transferred to the envelope and on where the envelope was heated. The envelope always becomes dynamically unstable before receiving net heat energy equal to the envelope's initial binding energy. We find two types of outcome, both of which likely lead to at least partial envelope ejection: "runaway" solutions in which the expansion of the radius becomes undeniably dynamical, and superficially "self-regulated" solutions, in which the expansion of the stellar radius stops but a significant fraction of the envelope becomes formally dynamically unstable. Almost the entire reservoir of initial helium recombination energy is used for envelope expansion. Hydrogen recombination is less energetically useful, but is nonetheless important for the development of the dynamical instabilities. However, this result requires the companion to have already plunged deep into the envelope; therefore this release of recombination energy does not help to explain wide post-common-envelope orbits.Comment: 17 pages, 10 figures, submitted to MNRAS. Comments are welcom

    The outburst radial velocity curve of X-Ray Nova Scorpii 1994 (=GRO J1655--40)

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    We present a reanalysis of the outburst radial velocity data for X-Ray Nova Scorpii 1994. Using a model based on X-ray heating of the secondary star we suggest a more realistic treatment of the radial velocity data. Solutions are obtained in the (K_2,q) plane which, when combined with the published value for the binary mass ratio and inclination, constrain the mass of the black hole to within the region 4.1<M_1<6.6 Msun (90 per cent confidence), which is significantly lower than the value obtained by Orosz & Bailyn (1997). This reduced lower bound for the black hole mass together with the high space velocity of the system is consistent with the idea that it was formed by the post-supernova collapse of a neutron star.Comment: Accepted for MNRAS, 4 pages Latex, 4 figure

    Constraints on SN Ia progenitor time delays from high-z SNe and the star formation history

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    We re-assess the question of a systematic time delay between the formation of the progenitor and its explosion in a type Ia supernova (SN Ia) using the Hubble Higher-z Supernova Search sample (Strolger et al. 2004). While the previous analysis indicated a significant time delay, with a most likely value of 3.4 Gyr, effectively ruling out all previously proposed progenitor models, our analysis shows that the time-delay estimate is dominated by systematic errors, in particular due to uncertainties in the star-formation history. We find that none of the popular progenitor models under consideration can be ruled out with any significant degree of confidence. The inferred time delay is mainly determined by the peak in the assumed star-formation history. We show that, even with a much larger Supernova sample, the time delay distribution cannot be reliably reconstructed without better constraints on the star-formation history.Comment: accepted for publication in MNRA

    Double-core evolution and the formation of neutron-star binaries with compact companions

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    We present the results of a systematic exploration of an alternative evolutionary scenario to form double neutron-star binaries, first proposed by Brown (1995), which does not involve a neutron star passing through a common envelope. In this scenario, the initial binary components have very similar masses, and both components have left the main sequence before they evolve into contact; preferably the primary has already developed a CO core. We have performed population synthesis simulations to study the formation of double neutron star binaries via this channel and to predict the orbital properties and system velocities of such systems. We obtain a merger rate for DNSs in this channel in the range of 0.1 - 12/Myr. These rates are still subject to substantial uncertainties such as the modelling of the contact phase.Comment: MNRAS, accepte

    The Triple-Ring Nebula around SN1987A: Fingerprint of a binary merger

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    Supernova 1987A, the first naked-eye supernova observed since Kepler's supernova in 1604, defies a number of theoretical expectations. Its anomalies have long been attributed to a merger between two massive stars that occurred some 20,000 years before the explosion, but so far there has been no conclusive proof that this merger took place. Here, we present three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of the mass ejection associated with such a merger and the subsequent evolution of the ejecta, and we show that this accurately reproduces the properties of the triple-ring nebula surrounding the supernova.Comment: 16 pages (including 7 pages of supplementary material), 2 figures (reduced in size), appeared in Science on 23rd February 2007. Animations available at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/315/5815/1103/DC1 or http://www-astro.physics.ox.ac.uk/~tsm/scipaper/index.htm

    Models of Ultraluminous X-Ray Sources with Intermediate-Mass Black Holes

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    We have computed models for ultraluminous X-ray sources ("ULXs") consisting of a black-hole accretor of intermediate mass ("IMBH"; e.g., ~1000 Msun) and a captured donor star. For each of four different sets of initial donor masses and orbital separations, we computed 30,000 binary evolution models using a full Henyey stellar evolution code. To our knowledge this is the first time that a population of X-ray binaries this large has been carried out with other than approximation methods, and it serves to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach to large-scale population studies of mass-transfer binaries. In the present study, we find that in order to have a plausible efficiency for producing active ULX systems with IMBHs having luminosities > 10^{40} ergs/sec, there are two basic requirements for the capture of companion/donor stars. First, the donor stars should be massive, i.e., > 8 Msun. Second, the initial orbital separations, after circularization, should be close, i.e., < 6-30 times the radius of the donor star when on the main sequence. Even under these optimistic conditions, we show that the production rate of IMBH-ULX systems may fall short of the observed values by factors of 10-100.Comment: 5 pages, 2 figures, submitted to Ap

    Evolution of binary stars and its implications for evolutionary population synthesis

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    Most stars are members of binaries, and the evolution of a star in a close binary system differs from that of an ioslated star due to the proximity of its companion star. The components in a binary system interact in many ways and binary evolution leads to the formation of many peculiar stars, including blue stragglers and hot subdwarfs. We will discuss binary evolution and the formation of blue stragglers and hot subdwarfs, and show that those hot objects are important in the study of evolutionary population synthesis (EPS), and conclude that binary interactions should be included in the study of EPS. Indeed, binary interactions make a stellar population younger (hotter), and the far-ultraviolet (UV) excess in elliptical galaxies is shown to be most likely resulted from binary interactions. This has major implications for understanding the evolution of the far-UV excess and elliptical galaxies in general. In particular, it implies that the far-UV excess is not a sign of age, as had been postulated prviously and predicts that it should not be strongly dependent on the metallicity of the population, but exists universally from dwarf ellipticals to giant ellipticals.Comment: Oral talk on IAUS 262, Brazi