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.
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The formation of discs in the interior of AGB stars from the tidal disruption of planets and brown dwarfs
ABSTRACT Collisional self-interactions occurring in protostellar jets give rise to strong shocks, the structure of which can be affected by radiative cooling within the flow. To study such colliding flows, we use the AstroBEAR AMR code to conduct hydrodynamic simulations in both one and three dimensions with a power-law cooling function. The characteristic length and time-scales for cooling are temperature dependent and thus may vary as shocked gas cools. When the cooling length decreases sufficiently and rapidly, the system becomes unstable to the radiative shock instability, which produces oscillations in the position of the shock front; these oscillations can be seen in both the one- and three-dimensional cases. Our simulations show no evidence of the density clumping characteristic of a thermal instability, even when the cooling function meets the expected criteria. In the three-dimensional case, the nonlinear thin shell instability (NTSI) is found to dominate when the cooling length is sufficiently small. When the flows are subjected to the radiative shock instability, oscillations in the size of the cooling region allow NTSI to occur at larger cooling lengths, though larger cooling lengths delay the onset of NTSI by increasing the oscillation period.
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.