MASS TRANSFER IN BINARY STARS USING SMOOTHED PARTICLE HYDRODYNAMICS. II. ECCENTRIC BINARIES Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Despite numerous efforts to better understand binary star evolution, some aspects of it remain poorly constrained. In particular, the evolution of eccentric binaries has remained elusive mainly because the Roche lobe formalism derived for circular binaries does not apply. Here, we report the results of our Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of mass transfer in eccentric binaries using an alternate method in which we model only the outermost layers of the stars with appropriate boundary conditions. Using this technique, along with properly relaxed model stars, we characterize the mass transfer episodes of binaries with various orbital parameters. In particular, we show that these episodes can be described by Gaussians with a FWMH of ~0.12 P_orb and that the peak rates occur after periastron, at an orbital phase of ~0.58, independently of the eccentricity and mass of the stars. The accreted material is observed to form a rather sparse envelope around either or both stars. Although the fate of this envelope is not modeled in our simulations, we show that a constant fraction (~5%) of the material transferred is ejected from the systems. We discuss this result in terms of the non-conservative mass transfer scenario. We suggest our results could be incorporated in analytical and binary population synthesis studies to help better understand the evolution of eccentric binaries and the formation of exotic stellar populations.

publication date

  • January 10, 2011