skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2022

Title: Phases of Mass Transfer from Hot Subdwarfs to White Dwarf Companions and Their Photometric Properties
Abstract Binary systems of a hot subdwarf B (sdB) star + a white dwarf (WD) with orbital periods less than 2–3 hr can come into contact due to gravitational waves and transfer mass from the sdB star to the WD before the sdB star ceases nuclear burning and contracts to become a WD. Motivated by the growing class of observed systems in this category, we study the phases of mass transfer in these systems. We find that because the residual outer hydrogen envelope accounts for a large fraction of an sdB star’s radius, sdB stars can spend a significant amount of time (∼tens of megayears) transferring this small amount of material at low rates (∼10 −10 –10 −9 M ⊙ yr −1 ) before transitioning to a phase where the bulk of their He transfers at much faster rates ( ≳10 −8 M ⊙ yr −1 ). These systems therefore spend a surprising amount of time with Roche-filling sdB donors at orbital periods longer than the range associated with He star models without an envelope. We predict that the envelope transfer phase should be detectable by searching for ellipsoidal modulation of Roche-filling objects with P orb = 30–100 minutes and more » T eff = 20,000–30,000 K, and that many (≥10) such systems may be found in the Galactic plane after accounting for reddening. We also argue that many of these systems may go through a phase of He transfer that matches the signatures of AM CVn systems, and that some AM CVn systems associated with young stellar populations likely descend from this channel. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract We present the discovery of a new double-detonation progenitor system consisting of a hot subdwarf B (sdB) binary with a white dwarf companion with a P orb = 76.34179(2) minutes orbital period. Spectroscopic observations are consistent with an sdB star during helium core burning residing on the extreme horizontal branch. Chimera light curves are dominated by ellipsoidal deformation of the sdB star and a weak eclipse of the companion white dwarf. Combining spectroscopic and light curve fits, we find a low-mass sdB star, M sdB = 0.383 ± 0.028 M ⊙ with a massive white dwarf companion, M WDmore »= 0.725 ± 0.026 M ⊙ . From the eclipses we find a blackbody temperature for the white dwarf of 26,800 K resulting in a cooling age of ≈25 Myr whereas our MESA model predicts an sdB age of ≈170 Myr. We conclude that the sdB formed first through stable mass transfer followed by a common envelope which led to the formation of the white dwarf companion ≈25 Myr ago. Using the MESA stellar evolutionary code we find that the sdB star will start mass transfer in ≈6 Myr and in ≈60 Myr the white dwarf will reach a total mass of 0.92 M ⊙ with a thick helium layer of 0.17 M ⊙ . This will lead to a detonation that will likely destroy the white dwarf in a peculiar thermonuclear supernova. PTF1 J2238+7430 is only the second confirmed candidate for a double-detonation thermonuclear supernova. Using both systems we estimate that at least ≈1% of white dwarf thermonuclear supernovae originate from sdB+WD binaries with thick helium layers, consistent with the small number of observed peculiar thermonuclear explosions.« less
  2. ABSTRACT M31-LRN-2015 is a likely stellar merger discovered in the Andromeda Galaxy in 2015. We present new optical to mid-infrared photometry and optical spectroscopy for this event. Archival data show that the source started to brighten ∼2 yr before the nova event. During this precursor phase, the source brightened by ∼3 mag. The light curve at 6 and 1.5 months before the main outburst may show periodicity, with periods of 16 ± 0.3 and 28.1 ± 1.4 d, respectively. This complex emission may be explained by runaway mass-loss from the system after the binary undergoes Roche lobe overflow, leading the system to coalesce in tens of orbital periods.more »While the progenitor spectral energy distribution shows no evidence of pre-existing warm dust in the system, the remnant forms an optically thick dust shell at approximately four months after the outburst peak. The optical depth of the shell increases dramatically after 1.5 yr, suggesting the existence of shocks that enhance the dust formation process. We propose that the merger remnant is likely an inflated giant obscured by a cooling shell of gas with mass ∼0.2 M⊙ ejected at the onset of the common envelope phase.« less
  3. Context. The TESS satellite was launched in 2018 to perform high-precision photometry from space over almost the whole sky in a search for exoplanets orbiting bright stars. This instrument has opened new opportunities to study variable hot subdwarfs, white dwarfs, and related compact objects. Targets of interest include white dwarf and hot subdwarf pulsators, both carrying high potential for asteroseismology. Aims. We present the discovery and detailed asteroseismic analysis of a new g -mode hot B subdwarf (sdB) pulsator, EC 21494−7018 (TIC 278659026), monitored in TESS first sector using 120-s cadence. Methods. The TESS light curve was analyzed with standardmore »prewhitening techniques, followed by forward modeling using our latest generation of sdB models developed for asteroseismic investigations. By simultaneously best-matching all the observed frequencies with those computed from models, we identified the pulsation modes detected and, more importantly, we determined the global parameters and structural configuration of the star. Results. The light curve analysis reveals that EC 21494−7018 is a sdB pulsator counting up to 20 frequencies associated with independent g -modes. The seismic analysis singles out an optimal model solution in full agreement with independent measurements provided by spectroscopy (atmospheric parameters derived from model atmospheres) and astrometry (distance evaluated from Gaia DR2 trigonometric parallax). Several key parameters of the star are derived. Its mass (0.391 ± 0.009  M ⊙ ) is significantly lower than the typical mass of sdB stars and suggests that its progenitor has not undergone the He-core flash; therefore this progenitor could originate from a massive (≳2  M ⊙ ) red giant, which is an alternative channel for the formation of sdBs. Other derived parameters include the H-rich envelope mass (0.0037 ± 0.0010  M ⊙ ), radius (0.1694 ± 0.0081  R ⊙ ), and luminosity (8.2 ± 1.1  L ⊙ ). The optimal model fit has a double-layered He+H composition profile, which we interpret as an incomplete but ongoing process of gravitational settling of helium at the bottom of a thick H-rich envelope. Moreover, the derived properties of the core indicate that EC 21494−7018 has burnt ∼43% (in mass) of its central helium and possesses a relatively large mixed core ( M core  = 0.198 ± 0.010  M ⊙ ), in line with trends already uncovered from other g-mode sdB pulsators analyzed with asteroseismology. Finally, we obtain for the first time an estimate of the amount of oxygen (in mass; X (O) core = 0.16 +0.13 −0.05 ) produced at this stage of evolution by an helium-burning core. This result, along with the core-size estimate, is an interesting constraint that may help to narrow down the still uncertain 12 C( α ,  γ ) 16 O nuclear reaction rate.« less
  4. Abstract We present panchromatic observations and modeling of calcium-strong supernovae (SNe) 2021gno in the star-forming host-galaxy NGC 4165 and 2021inl in the outskirts of elliptical galaxy NGC 4923, both monitored through the Young Supernova Experiment transient survey. The light curves of both, SNe show two peaks, the former peak being derived from shock cooling emission (SCE) and/or shock interaction with circumstellar material (CSM). The primary peak in SN 2021gno is coincident with luminous, rapidly decaying X-ray emission ( L x = 5 × 10 41 erg s −1 ) detected by Swift-XRT at δ t = 1 day after explosion,more »this observation being the second-ever detection of X-rays from a calcium-strong transient. We interpret the X-ray emission in the context of shock interaction with CSM that extends to r < 3 × 10 14 cm. Based on X-ray modeling, we calculate a CSM mass M CSM = (0.3−1.6) × 10 −3 M ⊙ and density n = (1−4) × 10 10 cm −3 . Radio nondetections indicate a low-density environment at larger radii ( r > 10 16 cm) and mass-loss rate of M ̇ < 10 − 4 M ⊙ yr −1 . SCE modeling of both primary light-curve peaks indicates an extended-progenitor envelope mass M e = 0.02−0.05 M ⊙ and radius R e = 30−230 R ⊙ . The explosion properties suggest progenitor systems containing either a low-mass massive star or a white dwarf (WD), the former being unlikely given the lack of local star formation. Furthermore, the environments of both SNe are consistent with low-mass hybrid He/C/O WD + C/O WD mergers.« less
  5. ABSTRACT It has long been speculated that jet feedback from accretion on to the companion during a common envelope (CE) event could affect the orbital evolution and envelope unbinding process. We present global 3D hydrodynamical simulations of CE evolution (CEE) that include a jet subgrid model and compare them with an otherwise identical model without a jet. Our binary consists of a 2-M⊙ red giant branch primary and a 1- or 0.5-M⊙ main sequence (MS) or white dwarf (WD) secondary companion modelled as a point particle. We run the simulations for 10 orbits (40 d). Our jet model adds mass atmore »a constant rate $\dot{M}_\mathrm{j}$ of the order of the Eddington rate, with maximum velocity vj of the order of the escape speed, to two spherical sectors with the jet axis perpendicular to the orbital plane. We explore the influence of the jet on orbital evolution, envelope morphology and envelope unbinding, and assess the dependence of the results on the jet mass-loss rate, launch speed, companion mass, opening angle, and accretion rate. In line with our theoretical estimates, jets are choked around the time of first periastron passage and remain choked thereafter. Subsequent to choking, but not before, jets efficiently transfer energy to bound envelope material. This leads to increases in unbound mass of up to $\sim 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, as compared to the simulations without jets. We also estimate the cumulative effects of jets over a full CE phase, finding that jets launched by MS and WD companions are unlikely to dominate envelope unbinding.« less