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Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of white dwarf collisions and close encounters  [PDF]
P. Lorén-Aguilar,J. Isern,E. García-Berro
Physics , 2010, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16878.x
Abstract: The collision of two white dwarfs is a quite frequent event in dense stellar systems, like globular clusters and galactic nuclei. In this paper we present the results of a set of simulations of the close encounters and collisions of two white dwarfs. We use an up- to-date smoothed particle hydrodynamics code that incorporates very detailed input physics and an improved treatment of the artificial viscosity. Our simulations have been done using a large number of particles (~ 4 \times 10^5) and covering a wide range of velocities and initial distances of the colliding white dwarfs. We discuss in detail when the initial eccentric binary white dwarf survives the closest approach, when a lateral collision in which several mass transfer episodes occur is the outcome of the newly formed binary system, and which range of input parameters leads to a direct collision, in which only one mass transfer episode occurs. We also discuss the characteristics of the final configuration and we assess the possible observational signatures of the merger, such as the associated gravitational waveforms and the fallback luminosities. We find that the overall evolution of the system and the main characteristics of the final object agree with those found in previous studies. We also find that the fallback luminosities are close to 10^48 erg/s. Finally, we find as well that in the case of lateral and direct collisions the gravitational waveforms are characterized by large-amplitude peaks which are followed by a ring-down phase, while in the case in which the binary white dwarf survives the closest approach, the gravitational pattern shows a distinctive behavior, typical of eccentric systems.
Stellar GADGET: A smooth particle hydrodynamics code for stellar astrophysics and its application to Type Ia supernovae from white dwarf mergers  [PDF]
R. Pakmor,P. Edelmann,F. K. Roepke,W. Hillebrandt
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21383.x
Abstract: Mergers of two carbon-oxygen white dwarfs have long been suspected to be progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae. Here we present our modifications to the cosmological smoothed particle hydrodynamics code Gadget to apply it to stellar physics including but not limited to mergers of white dwarfs. We demonstrate a new method to map a one-dimensional profile of an object in hydrostatic equilibrium to a stable particle distribution. We use the code to study the effect of initial conditions and resolution on the properties of the merger of two white dwarfs. We compare mergers with approximate and exact binary initial conditions and find that exact binary initial conditions lead to a much more stable binary system but there is no difference in the properties of the actual merger. In contrast, we find that resolution is a critical issue for simulations of white dwarf mergers. Carbon burning hotspots which may lead to a detonation in the so-called violent merger scenario emerge only in simulations with sufficient resolution but independent of the type of binary initial conditions. We conclude that simulations of white dwarf mergers which attempt to investigate their potential for Type Ia supernovae should be carried out with at least 10^6 particles.
Magnetic white dwarfs with debris discs  [PDF]
Baybars Külebi,K. Yavuz Ek?i,Pablo Lorén-Aguilar,Jordi Isern,Enrique García-Berro
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt374
Abstract: It has long been accepted that a possible mechanism for explaining the existence of magnetic white dwarfs is the merger of a binary white dwarf system, as there are viable mechanisms for producing sustainable magnetic fields within the merger product. However, the lack of rapid rotators in the magnetic white dwarf population has been always considered a problematic issue of this scenario. Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations show that in mergers in which the two white dwarfs have different masses a disc around the central compact object is formed. If the central object is magnetized it can interact with the disc through its magnetosphere. The torque applied by the disc changes the spin of the star, whereas the transferred angular momentum from the star to the disc determines the properties of the disc. In this work we build a model for the disc evolution under the effect of magnetic accretion, and for the angular momentum evolution of the star, which can be compared with the observations. Our model predicts that the magnetospheric interaction of magnetic white dwarfs with their discs results in a significant spin down, and we show that for magnetic white dwarfs with relatively strong fields (larger than 10 MG) the observed rotation periods of the magnetic white dwarf population can be reproduced. We also investigate whether turbulence can be sustained during the late phases of the evolution of the system. When a critical temperature below which turbulence is not sustained is introduced into the model, the periods of the three fast rotating, strongly magnetic, massive white dwarfs in the solar neighborhood are recovered.
Hydrodynamical evolution of merging carbon-oxygen white dwarfs: their pre-supernova structure and observational counterparts  [PDF]
Ataru Tanikawa,Naohito Nakasato,Yushi Sato,Ken'ichi Nomoto,Keiichi Maeda,Izumi Hachisu
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: We perform smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations for merging binary carbon-oxygen (CO) white dwarfs (WDs) with masses of $1.1$ and $1.0$ $M_\odot$, until the merger remnant reaches a dynamically steady state. Using these results, we assess whether the binary could induce a thermonuclear explosion, and whether the explosion could be observed as a type Ia supernova (SN Ia). We investigate three explosion mechanisms: a helium-ignition following the dynamical merger (`helium-ignited violent merger model'), a carbon-ignition (`carbon-ignited violent merger model'), and an explosion following the formation of the Chandrasekhar mass WD (`Chandrasekhar mass model'). An explosion of the helium-ignited violent merger model is possible, while we predict that the resulting SN ejecta are highly asymmetric since its companion star is fully intact at the time of the explosion. The carbon-ignited violent merger model can also lead to an explosion. However, the envelope of the exploding WD spreads out to $\sim 0.1R_\odot$; it is much larger than that inferred for SN 2011fe ($< 0.1R_\odot $) while much smaller than that for SN 2014J ($\sim 1R_\odot$). For the particular combination of the WD masses studied in this work, the Chandrasekhar mass model is not successful to lead to an SN Ia explosion. Besides these assessments, we investigate the evolution of unbound materials ejected through the merging process (`merger ejecta'), assuming a case where the SN Ia explosion is not triggered by the helium- or carbon-ignition during the merger. The merger ejecta interact with the surrounding interstellar medium, and form a shell. The shell has a bolometric luminosity of more than $2 \times 10^{35}$ ergs$^{-1}$ lasting for $\sim 2 \times 10^4$ yr. If this is the case, Milky Way should harbor about $10$ such shells at any given time.
The Merger Rate of Binary White Dwarfs in the Galactic Disk  [PDF]
Carles Badenes,Dan Maoz
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/749/1/L11
Abstract: We use multi-epoch spectroscopy of about 4000 white dwarfs in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to constrain the properties of the Galactic population of binary white dwarf systems and calculate their merger rate. With a Monte Carlo code, we model the distribution of DRVmax, the maximum radial velocity shift between exposures of the same star, as a function of the binary fraction within 0.05 AU, fbin, and the power-law index in the separation distribution at the end of the common envelope phase, alpha. Although there is some degeneracy between fbin and alpha, the the fifteen high DRVmax systems that we find constrain the combination of these parameters, which determines a white dwarf merger rate per unit stellar mass of 1.4(+3.4,-1.0)e-13 /yr/Msun (1-sigma limits). This is remarkably similar to the measured rate of Type Ia supernovae per unit stellar mass in Milky-Way-like Sbc galaxies. The rate of super-Chandrasekhar mergers is only 1.0(+1.6,-0.6)e-14 /yr/Msun. We conclude that there are not enough close binary white dwarf systems to reproduce the observed Type Ia SN rate in the 'classic' double degenerate super-Chandrasekhar scenario. On the other hand, if sub-Chandrasekhar mergers can lead to Type Ia SNe, as recently suggested by some studies, they could make a major contribution to the overall Type Ia SN rate. Although unlikely, we cannot rule out contamination of our sample by M-dwarf binaries or non-Gaussian errors. These issues will be clarified in the near future by completing the follow-up of all 15 high DRVmax systems.
Detonations in white dwarf dynamical interactions  [PDF]
Gabriela Aznar-Siguán,Enrique García-Berro,Pablo Lorén-Aguilar,Jordi José,Jordi Isern
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1198
Abstract: In old, dense stellar systems collisions of white dwarfs are a rather frequent phenomenon. Here we present the results of a comprehensive set of Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of close encounters of white dwarfs aimed to explore the outcome of the interaction and the nature of the final remnants for different initial conditions. Depending on the initial conditions and the white dwarf masses, three different outcomes are possible. Specifically, the outcome of the interaction can be either a direct or a lateral collision or the interaction can result in the formation of an eccentric binary system. In those cases in which a collision occurs, the infalling material is compressed and heated such that the physical conditions for a detonation may be reached during the most violent phases of the merger. While we find that detonations occur in a significant number of our simulations, in some of them the temperature increase in the shocked region rapidly lifts degeneracy, leading to the quenching of the burning. We thus characterize under which circumstances a detonation is likely to occur as a result of the impact of the disrupted star on the surface of the more massive white dwarf. Finally, we also study which interactions result in bound systems, and in which ones the more massive white dwarf is also disrupted as a consequence of the dynamical interaction. The sizable number of simulations performed in this work allows to find how the outcome of the interaction depends on the distance at closest approach, and on the masses of the colliding white dwarfs, and which is the chemical pattern of the nuclearly processed material. Finally, we also discuss the influence of the masses and core chemical compositions of the interacting white dwarfs and the different kinds of impact in the properties of the remnants.
Violent mergers of nearly equal-mass white dwarf as progenitors of subluminous Type Ia supernovae  [PDF]
R. Pakmor,S. Hachinger,F. K. Roepke,W. Hillebrandt
Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201015653
Abstract: The origin of subluminous Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) has long eluded any explanation, as all Chandrasekhar-mass models have severe problems reproducing them. Recently, it has been proposed that violent mergers of two white dwarfs of 0.9 M_sun could lead to subluminous SNe Ia events that resemble 1991bg-like SNe~Ia. Here we investigate whether this scenario still works for mergers of two white dwarfs with a mass ratio smaller than one. We aim to determine the range of mass ratios for which a detonation still forms during the merger, as only those events will lead to a SN Ia. This range is an important ingredient for population synthesis and one decisive point to judge the viability of the scenario. In addition, we perform a resolution study of one of the models. Finally we discuss the connection between violent white dwarf mergers with a primary mass of 0.9 M_sun and 1991bg-like SNe Ia. The latest version of the smoothed particle hydrodynamics code Gadget3 is used to evolve binary systems with different mass ratios until they merge. We analyze the result and look for hot spots in which detonations can form. We show that mergers of two white dwarfs with a primary white dwarf mass of ~0.9 M_sun and a mass ratio larger than about $0.8$ robustly reach the conditions we require to ignite a detonation and thus produce thermonuclear explosions during the merger itself. We also find that while our simulations do not yet completely resolve the hot spots, increasing the resolution leads to conditions that are even more likely to ignite detonations. (abridged)
Nucleosynthesis during the Merger of White Dwarfs and the Origin of R Coronae Borealis Stars  [PDF]
R. Longland,P. Lorén-Aguilar,J. José,E. García-Berro,L. G. Althaus,J. Isern
Physics , 2011, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/737/2/L34
Abstract: Many hydrogen deficient stars are characterised by surface abundance patterns that are hard to reconcile with conventional stellar evolution. Instead, it has been suggested that they may represent the result of a merger episode between a helium and a carbon-oxygen white dwarf. In this Letter, we present a nucleosynthesis study of the merger of a 0.4 M_sol helium white dwarf with a 0.8 M_sol carbon-oxygen white dwarf, by coupling the thermodynamic history of Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics particles with a post-processing code. The resulting chemical abundance pattern, particularly for oxygen and fluorine, is in qualitative agreement with the observed abundances in R Coronae Borealis stars.
Can R CrB stars form from the merger of two helium white dwarfs?  [PDF]
Xianfei Zhang,C. Simon Jeffery
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2012.01330.x
Abstract: Due to orbital decay by gravitational-wave radiation, some close-binary helium white dwarfs are expected to merge within a Hubble time. The immediate merger products are believed to be helium-rich sdO stars, essentially helium main-sequence stars. We present new evolution calculations for these post-merger stars beyond the core helium-burning phase. The most massive He-sdO's develop a strong helium-burning shell and evolve to become helium-rich giants. We include nucleosynthesis calculations following the merger of $0.4 \rm M_{\odot}$ helium white-dwarf pairs with metallicities $Z = 0.0001, 0.004, 0.008$ and 0.02. The surface chemistries of the resulting giants are in partial agreement with the observed abundances of R Coronae Borealis and extreme helium stars. Such stars might represent a third, albeit rare, evolution channel for the latter, in addition to the CO+He white dwarf merger and the very-late thermal pulse channels proposed previously. We confirm a recent suggestion that lithium seen in R\,CrB stars could form naturally during the hot phase of a merger in the presence of \iso{3}{He} from the donor white dwarf.
Type Ia Supernovae from Merging White Dwarfs II) Post-Merger Detonations  [PDF]
Cody Raskin,Daniel Kasen,Rainer Moll,Josiah Schwab,Stan Woosley
Physics , 2013,
Abstract: Merging carbon-oxygen (CO) white dwarfs are a promising progenitor system for Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia), but the underlying physics and timing of the detonation are still debated. If an explosion occurs after the secondary star is fully disrupted, the exploding primary will expand into a dense CO medium that may still have a disk-like structure. This interaction will decelerate and distort the ejecta. Here we carry out multi-dimensional simulations of ``tamped" SN Ia models, using both particle and grid-based codes to study the merger and explosion dynamics, and a radiative transfer code to calculate synthetic spectra and light curves. We find that post-merger explosions exhibit an hourglass-shaped asymmetry, leading to strong variations in the light curves with viewing angle. The two most important factors affecting the outcome are the scale-height of the disk, which depends sensitively on the binary mass ratio, and the total ${}^{56}$Ni yield, which is governed by the central density of the remnant core. The synthetic broadband light curves rise and decline very slowly, and the spectra generally look peculiar, with weak features from intermediate mass elements but relatively strong carbon absorption. We also consider the effects of the viscous evolution of the remnant, and show that a longer time delay between merger and explosion probably leads to larger ${}^{56}$Ni yields and more symmetrical remnants. We discuss the relevance of this class of aspherical ``tamped" SN Ia for explaining the class of ``super-Chandrasekhar'' SN Ia.
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