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    Post-common envelope binaries (PCEBs) containing a white dwarf (WD) and a main-sequence (MS) star can constrain the physics of common envelope evolution and calibrate binary evolution models. Most PCEBs studied to date have short orbital periods (Porb ≲ 1 d), implying relatively inefficient harnessing of binaries’ orbital energy for envelope expulsion. Here, we present follow-up observations of five binaries from 3rd data release of Gaia mission containing solar-type MS stars and probable ultramassive WDs ($M\gtrsim 1.2\ {\rm M}_{\odot}$) with significantly wider orbits than previously known PCEBs, Porb = 18–49 d. The WD masses are much higher than expected for systems formed via stable mass transfer at these periods, and their near-circular orbits suggest partial tidal circularization when the WD progenitors were giants. These properties strongly suggest that the binaries are PCEBs. Forming PCEBs at such wide separations requires highly efficient envelope ejection, and we find that the observed periods can only be explained if a significant fraction of the energy released when the envelope recombines goes into ejecting it. Our one-dimensional stellar models including recombination energy confirm prior predictions that a wide range of PCEB orbital periods, extending up to months or years, can potentially result from Roche lobe overflow of a luminous asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star. This evolutionary scenario may also explain the formation of several wide WD + MS binaries discovered via self-lensing, as well as a significant fraction of post-AGB binaries and barium stars.

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    We present follow-up spectroscopy of 21 cataclysmic variables (CVs) with evolved secondaries and ongoing or recently terminated mass transfer. Evolutionary models predict that the secondaries should have anomalous surface abundances owing to nuclear burning in their cores during their main-sequence evolution and subsequent envelope stripping by their companion white dwarfs. To test these models, we measure sodium (Na) abundances of the donors from the Fraunhofer ‘D’ doublet. Accounting for interstellar absorption, we find that all objects in our sample have enhanced Na abundances. We measure 0.3 dex ≲ [Na/H] ≲ 1.5 dex across the sample, with a median [Na/H]  = 0.956 dex, i.e. about an order of magnitude enhancement over solar values. To interpret these values, we run Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics binary evolution models of CVs in which mass transfer begins just as the donor leaves the main sequence. These generically predict Na enhancement in donors with initial donor masses $\gtrsim 1\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$, consistent with our observations. In the models, Na enrichment occurs in the donors’ cores via the NeNa cycle near the end of their main-sequence evolution. Na-enhanced material is exposed when the binaries reach orbital periods of a few hours. Donors with higher initial masses are predicted to have higher Na abundances at fixed orbital period owing to their higher core temperatures during main-sequence evolution. The observed [Na/H] values are on average ≈0.3 dex higher than predicted by the models. Surface abundances of evolved CV donors provide a unique opportunity to study nuclear burning products in the cores of intermediate-mass stars.

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    One of the key processes driving galaxy evolution during the Cosmic Dawn is supernova feedback. This likely helps regulate star formation inside of galaxies, but it can also drive winds that influence the large-scale intergalactic medium. Here, we present a simple semi-analytic model of supernova-driven galactic winds and explore the contributions of different phases of galaxy evolution to cosmic metal enrichment in the high-redshift (z ≳ 6) Universe. We show that models calibrated to the observed galaxy luminosity function at z ∼ 6–8 have filling factors $\sim 1{{\%}}$ at z ∼ 6 and $\sim 0.1{{\%}}$ at z ∼ 12, with different star formation prescriptions providing about an order of magnitude uncertainty. Despite the small fraction of space filled by winds, these scenarios predict an upper limit to the abundance of metal-line absorbers in quasar spectra at $z \gtrsim 5$ which is comfortably above that currently observed. We also consider enrichment through winds driven by Pop III star formation in minihalos. We find that these can dominate the total filling factor at $z \gtrsim 10$ and even compete with winds from normal galaxies at z ∼ 6, at least in terms of the total enriched volume. But these regions have much lower overall metallicities, because each one is generated by a small burst of star formation. Finally, we show that Compton cooling of these supernova-driven winds at $z \gtrsim 6$ has only a small effect on the cosmic microwave background.

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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 27, 2024