skip to main content

Title: The formation of discs in the interior of AGB stars from the tidal disruption of planets and brown dwarfs

A significant fraction of isolated white dwarfs host magnetic fields in excess of a MegaGauss. Observations suggest that these fields originate in interacting binary systems where the companion is destroyed thus leaving a singular, highly magnetized white dwarf. In post-main-sequence evolution, radial expansion of the parent star may cause orbiting companions to become engulfed. During the common envelope phase, as the orbital separation rapidly decreases, low-mass companions will tidally disrupt as they approach the giant’s core. We hydrodynamically simulate the tidal disruption of planets and brown dwarfs, and the subsequent accretion disc formation, in the interior of an asymptotic giant branch star. Compared to previous steady-state simulations, the resultant discs form with approximately the same mass fraction as estimated but have not yet reached steady state and are morphologically more extended in height and radius. The long-term evolution of the disc and the magnetic fields generated therein require future study.

; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2009713 1813298
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 5994-6000
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT We present X-ray and radio observations of what may be the closest Type Iax supernova (SN) to date, SN 2014dt (d = 12.3–19.3 Mpc), and provide tight constraints on the radio and X-ray emission. We infer a specific radio luminosity $L_R\lt (1.0\!-\!2.4)\times 10^{25}\, \rm {erg\, s^{-1}\, Hz^{-1}}$ at a frequency of 7.5 GHz and a X-ray luminosity $L_X\lt 1.4\times 10^{38}\, \rm {erg\, s^{-1}}$ (0.3–10 keV) at ∼38–48 d post-explosion. We interpret these limits in the context of Inverse Compton (IC) emission and synchrotron emission from a population of electrons accelerated at the forward shock of the explosion in a power-law distribution $N_e(\gamma _e)\propto \gamma _e^{-p}$ with p = 3. Our analysis constrains the progenitor system mass-loss rate to be $\dot{M}\lt 5.0 \times 10^{-6} \rm {M_{\odot }\, yr^{-1}}$ at distances $r\lesssim 10^{16}\, \rm {cm}$ for an assumed wind velocity $v_w=100\, \rm {km\, s^{-1}}$, and a fraction of post-shock energy into magnetic fields and relativistic electrons of ϵB = 0.01 and ϵe = 0.1, respectively. This result rules out some of the parameter space of symbiotic giant star companions, and it is consistent with the low mass-loss rates expected from He-star companions. Our calculations also show that the improved sensitivity of the next-generation Very Largemore »Array (ngVLA) is needed to probe the very low-density media characteristic of He stars that are the leading model for binary stellar companions of white dwarfs giving origin to Type Iax SNe.« less

    Volume complete sky surveys provide evidence for a binary origin for the formation of isolated white dwarfs with magnetic fields in excess of a MegaGauss. Interestingly, not a single high-field magnetic white dwarf has been found in a detached system, suggesting that if the progenitors are indeed binaries, the companion must be removed or merge during formation. An origin scenario consistent with observations involves the engulfment, inspiral, and subsequent tidal disruption of a low-mass companion in the interior of a giant star during a common envelope phase. Material from the shredded companion forms a cold accretion disc embedded in the hot ambient around the proto-white dwarf. Entrainment of hot material may evaporate the disc before it can sufficiently amplify the magnetic field, which typically requires at least a few orbits of the disc. Using three-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations of accretion discs with masses between 1 and 10 times the mass of Jupiter inside the core of an Asymptotic Giant Branch star, we find that the discs survive for at least 10 orbits (and likely for 100 orbits), sufficient for strong magnetic fields to develop.


    Magnetic fields can play an important role in stellar evolution. Among white dwarfs, the most common stellar remnant, the fraction of magnetic systems is more than 20 per cent. The origin of magnetic fields in white dwarfs, which show strengths ranging from 40 kG to hundreds of MG, is still a topic of debate. In contrast, only one magnetic hot subdwarf star has been identified out of thousands of known systems. Hot subdwarfs are formed from binary interaction, a process often associated with the generation of magnetic fields, and will evolve to become white dwarfs, which makes the lack of detected magnetic hot subdwarfs a puzzling phenomenon. Here we report the discovery of three new magnetic hot subdwarfs with field strengths in the range 300–500 kG. Like the only previously known system, they are all helium-rich O-type stars (He-sdOs). We analysed multiple archival spectra of the three systems and derived their stellar properties. We find that they all lack radial velocity variability, suggesting formation via a merger channel. However, we derive higher than typical hydrogen abundances for their spectral type, which are in disagreement with current model predictions. Our findings suggest a lower limit to the magnetic fraction of hot subdwarfs of $0.147^{+0.143}_{-0.047}$ per cent,more »and provide evidence for merger-induced magnetic fields which could explain white dwarfs with field strengths of 50–150 MG, assuming magnetic flux conservation.

    « less

    We analyse two binary systems containing giant stars, V723 Mon (‘the Unicorn’) and 2M04123153+6738486 (‘the Giraffe’). Both giants orbit more massive but less luminous companions, previously proposed to be mass-gap black holes. Spectral disentangling reveals luminous companions with star-like spectra in both systems. Joint modelling of the spectra, light curves, and spectral energy distributions robustly constrains the masses, temperatures, and radii of both components: the primaries are luminous, cool giants ($T_{\rm eff,\, giant} = 3800$ and $4000\, \rm K$, $R_{\rm giant}= 22.5$ and $25\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) with exceptionally low masses ($M_{\rm giant} \approx 0.4\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) that likely fill their Roche lobes. The secondaries are only slightly warmer subgiants ($T_{\rm eff,\, 2} = 5800$ and $5150\, \rm K$, $R_2= 8.3$ and $9\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) and thus are consistent with observed UV limits that would rule out main-sequence stars with similar masses ($M_2 \approx 2.8$ and ${\approx}1.8\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$). In the Unicorn, rapid rotation blurs the spectral lines of the subgiant, making it challenging to detect even at wavelengths where it dominates the total light. Both giants have surface abundances indicative of CNO processing and subsequent envelope stripping. The properties of both systems can be reproducedmore »by binary evolution models in which a $1{-}2\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ primary is stripped by a companion as it ascends the giant branch. The fact that the companions are also evolved implies either that the initial mass ratio was very near unity, or that the companions are temporarily inflated due to rapid accretion. The Unicorn and Giraffe offer a window into into a rarely observed phase of binary evolution preceding the formation of wide-orbit helium white dwarfs, and eventually, compact binaries containing two helium white dwarfs.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    The distribution of white dwarf rotation periods provides a means for constraining angular momentum evolution during the late stages of stellar evolution, as well as insight into the physics and remnants of double degenerate mergers. Although the rotational distribution of low-mass white dwarfs is relatively well constrained via asteroseismology, that of high-mass white dwarfs, which can arise from either intermediate-mass stellar evolution or white dwarf mergers, is not. Photometric variability in white dwarfs due to rotation of a spotted star is rapidly increasing the sample size of high-mass white dwarfs with measured rotation periods. We present the discovery of 22.4 minute photometric variability in the light curve of EGGR 156, a strongly magnetic, ultramassive white dwarf. We interpret this variability as rapid rotation, and our data suggest that EGGR 156 is the remnant of a double degenerate merger. Finally, we calculate the rate of period change in rapidly-rotating, massive, magnetic WDs due to magnetic dipole radiation. In many cases, including EGGR 156, the period change is not currently detectable over reasonable timescales, indicating that these WDs could be very precise clocks. For the most highly-magnetic, rapidly-rotating massive WDs, such as ZTF J1901+1450 and RE J0317−853, the period change shouldmore »be detectable and may help constrain the structure and evolution of these exotic white dwarfs.

    « less