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  1. Abstract We explore the observational appearance of the merger of a low-mass star with a white dwarf (WD) binary companion. We are motivated by recent work finding that multiple tensions between the observed properties of cataclysmic variables (CVs) and standard evolution models are resolved if a large fraction of CV binaries merge as a result of unstable mass transfer. Tidal disruption of the secondary forms a geometrically thick disk around the WD, which subsequently accretes at highly super-Eddington rates. Analytic estimates and numerical hydrodynamical simulations reveal that outflows from the accretion flow unbind a large fraction ≳90% of the secondary at velocities ∼500–1000 km s −1 within days of the merger. Hydrogen recombination in the expanding ejecta powers optical transient emission lasting about a month with a luminosity ≳10 38 erg s −1 , similar to slow classical novae and luminous red novae from ordinary stellar mergers. Over longer timescales the mass accreted by the WD undergoes hydrogen shell burning, inflating the remnant into a giant of luminosity ∼300–5000 L ⊙ , effective temperature T eff ≈ 3000 K, and lifetime ∼10 4 –10 5 yr. We predict that ∼10 3 –10 4 Milky Way giants are CV merger products,more »potentially distinguishable by atypical surface abundances. We explore whether any Galactic historical slow classical novae are masquerading CV mergers by identifying four such post-nova systems with potential giant counterparts for which a CV merger origin cannot be ruled out. We address whether the historical transient CK Vul and its gaseous/dusty nebula resulted from a CV merger.« less
  2. Abstract

    Tight binary or multiple-star systems can interact through mass transfer and follow vastly different evolutionary pathways than single stars. The star TYC 2597-735-1 is a candidate for a recent stellar merger remnant resulting from a coalescence of a low-mass companion with a primary star a few thousand years ago. This violent event is evident in a conical outflow (“Blue Ring Nebula”) emitting in UV light and surrounded by leading shock filaments observed in Hαand UV emission. From Chandra data, we report the detection of X-ray emission from the location of TYC 2597-735-1 with a luminositylog(LX/Lbol)=5.5. Together with a previously reported period of ~14 days, this indicates ongoing stellar activity and the presence of strong magnetic fields on TYC 2597-735-1. Supported by stellar evolution models of merger remnants, we interpret the inferred stellar magnetic field as dynamo action associated with a newly formed convection zone in the atmosphere of TYC 2597-735-1, though internal shocks at the base of an accretion-powered jet cannot be ruled out. We speculate that this object will evolve into an FK Com–type source, i.e., a class of rapidly spinning magnetically active stars for which a merger origin has beenmore »proposed but for which no relic accretion or large-scale nebula remains visible. We also detect likely X-ray emission from two small regions close to the outer shock fronts in the Blue Ring Nebula, which may arise from inhomogeneities either in the circumstellar medium or in the mass and velocity distribution in the merger-driven outflow.

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  3. We survey our understanding of classical novae—nonterminal, thermonuclear eruptions on the surfaces of white dwarfs in binary systems. The recent and unexpected discovery of GeV gamma rays from Galactic novae has highlighted the complexity of novae and their value as laboratories for studying shocks and particle acceleration. We review half a century of nova literature through this new lens, and conclude the following: ▪  The basics of the thermonuclear runaway theory of novae are confirmed by observations. The white dwarf sustains surface nuclear burning for some time after runaway, and until recently, it was commonly believed that radiation from this nuclear burning solely determines the nova's bolometric luminosity. ▪  The processes by which novae eject material from the binary system remain poorly understood. Mass loss from novae is complex (sometimes fluctuating in rate, velocity, and morphology) and often prolonged in time over weeks, months, or years. ▪  The complexity of the mass ejection leads to gamma-ray-producing shocks internal to the nova ejecta. When gamma rays are detected (around optical maximum), the shocks are deeply embedded and the surrounding gas is very dense. ▪  Observations of correlated optical and gamma-ray light curves confirm that the shocks are radiative and contribute significantlymore »to the bolometric luminosity of novae. Novae are therefore the closest and most common interaction-powered transients.« less
  4. ABSTRACT The ejecta velocity is a very important parameter in studying the structure and properties of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) and is a candidate key parameter in improving the utility of SNe Ia for cosmological distance determinations. Here, we study the velocity distribution of a sample of 311 SNe Ia from the kaepora data base. The velocities are derived from the Si ii λ6355 absorption line in optical spectra measured at (or extrapolated to) the time of peak brightness. We statistically show that the observed velocity has a bimodal Gaussian distribution (population ratio 201:110 or 65 per cent:35 per cent) consisting of two groups of SNe Ia: Group I with a lower but narrower scatter ($11\, 000 \pm 700\, \mathrm{km\, s}^{-1}$), and Group II with a higher but broader scatter ($12\, 300 \pm 1800\, \mathrm{km\, s}^{-1}$). The true origin of the two components is unknown. Naturally, there could exist two intrinsic velocity distributions observed. However, we try to use asymmetric geometric models through statistical simulations to reproduce the observed distribution assuming that all SNe Ia share the same intrinsic distribution. In the two cases we consider, 35 per cent of SNe Ia are considered to be asymmetric in Case 1, and all SNe Ia are asymmetric in Case 2. Simulations for both cases canmore »reproduce the observed velocity distribution but require a significantly large portion ($\gt 35{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of SNe Ia to be asymmetric. In addition, the Case 1 result is consistent with recent SNe Ia polarization observations that higher Si ii λ6355 velocities tend to be more polarized.« less