Gijs Nelemans - Radboud University/KU Leuven

Gijs Nelemans
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Gijs Nelemans
Radboud University/KU Leuven

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Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (23)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (16)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (13)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (7)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (7)
Astrophysics (7)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (5)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By Gijs Nelemans

Affiliations: 1The Weizmann Institute for Science, 2The Weizmann Institute for Science, 3The Weizmann Institute for Science, 4The Weizmann Institute for Science, 5Radboud University

Recent studies of the stellar population in the solar neighborhood (<20 pc) suggest that there are undetected white dwarfs (WDs) in multiple systems with main sequence companions. Detecting these hidden stars and obtaining a more complete census of nearby WDs is important for our understanding of binary and galactic evolution, as well as the study of explosive phenomena. In an attempt to uncover these hidden WDs, we present intermediate resolution spectroscopy over the wavelength range 3000-25000 \AA\ of 101 nearby M dwarfs (dMs), observed with the Very Large Telescope X-Shooter spectrograph. Read More

Double white dwarf (DWD) binaries are expected to be very common in the Milky Way, but their intrinsic faintness challenges the detection of these systems. Currently, only a few tens of detached DWDs are know. Such systems offer the best chance of extracting the physical properties that would allow us to address a wealth of outstanding questions ranging from the nature of white dwarfs, over stellar and binary evolution to mapping the Galaxy. Read More

Following the selection of The Gravitational Universe by ESA, and the successful flight of LISA Pathfinder, the LISA Consortium now proposes a 4 year mission in response to ESA's call for missions for L3. The observatory will be based on three arms with six active laser links, between three identical spacecraft in a triangular formation separated by 2.5 million km. Read More

The aim of this work is to study the imprints that different models for black hole (BH) and neutron star (NS) formation have on the Galactic distribution of X-ray binaries (XRBs) which contain these objects. We find that the root mean square of the height above the Galactic plane of BH- and NS-XRBs is a powerful proxy to discriminate among different formation scenarios, and that binary evolution following the BH/NS formation does not significantly affect the Galactic distributions of the binaries. We find that a population model in which at least some BHs receive a (relatively) high natal kick fits the observed BH-XRBs best. Read More

In the $\Lambda$CDM model of structure formation, a stellar spheroid grows by the assembly of smaller galaxies, the so-called building blocks. Combining the Munich-Groningen semi-analytical model of galaxy formation with the high resolution Aquarius simulations of dark matter haloes, we study the assembly history of the stellar spheroids of six Milky Way-mass galaxies, focussing on building block properties such as mass, age and metallicity. These properties are compared to those of the surviving satellites in the same models. Read More

Affiliations: 1Armagh Observatory, 2Armagh Observatory, 3Radboud Univ and UCT, 4Radboud Univ, 5UCT, 6Sheffield and IAC, 7Armagh, 8Warwick, 9Radboud, 10Warwick

OmegaWhite is a wide-field, high cadence, synoptic survey targeting fields in the southern Galactic plane, with the aim of discovering short period variable stars. Our strategy is to take a series of 39 s exposures in the g band of a 1 square degree of sky lasting 2 h using the OmegaCAM wide field imager on the VLT Survey Telescope (VST). We give an overview of the initial 4 years of data which covers 134 square degrees and includes 12. Read More

Binary neutron stars are among the most promising candidates for joint gravitational-wave and electromagnetic astronomy. The goal of this work is to investigate the strategy of using gravitational wave sky-localizations for binary neutron star systems, to search for electromagnetic counterparts using wide field of view optical telescopes. We examine various strategies of scanning the gravitational wave sky-localizations on the mock 2015-16 gravitational-wave events. Read More

The formation of stellar mass black holes is still very uncertain. Two main uncertainties are the amount of mass ejected in the supernova event (if any) and the magnitude of the natal kick the black hole receives at birth (if any). Repetto et al. Read More

Gaia will identify several 1e5 white dwarfs, most of which will be in the solar neighborhood at distances of a few hundred parsecs. Ground-based optical follow-up spectroscopy of this sample of stellar remnants is essential to unlock the enormous scientific potential it holds for our understanding of stellar evolution, and the Galactic formation history of both stars and planets. Read More

Recent work by Levitan et al has expanded the long-term photometric database for AM CVn stars. In particular, their outburst properties are well-correlated with orbital period, and allow constraints to be placed on the secular mass transfer rate between secondary and primary if one adopts the disk instability model for the outbursts. We use the observed range of outbursting behavior for AM CVn systems as a function of orbital period to place a constraint on mass transfer rate versus orbital period P. Read More

We follow the evolution of compact binaries under the coupled effect of tides and stellar winds until the onset of Roche-lobe overflow. These binaries contain a compact object (either a black-hole, a neutron-star, or a planet) and a stellar component. We integrate the full set of tidal equations, which are based on Hut's model for tidal evolution, and we couple them with the angular momentum loss in a stellar wind. Read More

Aims: We study single and binary white dwarfs in the inner halo of the Milky Way in order to learn more about the conditions under which the population of halo stars was born, such as the initial mass function (IMF), the star formation history, or the binary fraction. Methods: We simulate the evolution of low-metallicity halo stars at distances up to ~ 3 kpc using the binary population synthesis code SeBa. We use two different white dwarf cooling models to predict the present-day luminosities of halo white dwarfs. Read More

The space-based gravitational wave (GW) detector, \emph{evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna} (eLISA) is expected to observe millions of compact Galactic binaries that populate our Milky Way. GW measurements obtained from the eLISA detector are in many cases complimentary to possible electro-magnetic (EM) data. In our previous papers, we have shown that the EM data can significantly enhance our knowledge of the astrophysically relevant GW parameters of the Galactic binaries, such as the amplitude and inclination. Read More

The discovery of the most compact detached white dwarf (WD) binary SDSS J065133.33+284423.3 has been discussed in terms of probing the tidal effects in white dwarfs. Read More

Neutron star binaries, which are among the most promising sources for the direct detection of gravitational waves (GW) by ground based detectors, are also potential electromagnetic (EM) emitters. Gravitational waves will provide a new window to observe these events and hopefully give us glimpses of new astrophysics. In this paper, we discuss how EM information of these events can considerably improve GW parameter estimation both in terms of accuracy and computational power requirement. Read More

We provide the Chandra source list for the last ~quarter of the area covered by the Galactic Bulge Survey (GBS). The GBS targets two strips of 6\degr x 1\degr (12 square degrees in total), one above (1\degrRead More

Type-Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are important distance indicators, element factories, cosmic-ray accelerators, kinetic-energy sources in galaxy evolution, and endpoints of stellar binary evolution. It has long been clear that a SN Ia must be the runaway thermonuclear explosion of a degenerate carbon-oxygen stellar core, most likely a white dwarf (WD). However, the specific progenitor systems of SNe Ia, and the processes that lead to their ignition, have not been identified. Read More

Context: The nature of the progenitors of type Ia supernova (SN) progenitors remains unclear. While it is usually agreed that single-degenerate progenitor systems would be luminous supersoft X-ray sources (SSSs), it was recently suggested that double-degenerate progenitors might also go through a SSS phase. Aims: We aim to examine the possibility of double-degenerate progenitor systems being SSSs, and place stringent upper limits on the maximally possible durations of any SSS phases and expected number of these systems in a galactic population. Read More

Context. An important ingredient in binary evolution is the common-envelope (CE) phase. Although this phase is believed to be responsible for the formation of many close binaries, the process is not well understood. Read More

We present a determination of the average space density and birth rate of hydrogen-line (DA) white dwarfs within a radius of 1 kpc around the Sun, based on an observational sample of 360 candidate white dwarfs with g<19.5 and (g-r)<0.4, selected from the UV-excess Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (UVEX), in combination with a theoretical white dwarf population that has been constructed to simulate the observations, including the effects of reddening and observational selection effects. Read More

In this follow-up paper, we continue our study of the effect of using knowledge from electromagnetic observations in the gravitational wave (GW) data analysis of Galactic binaries that are predicted to be observed by the new \textit{Laser Interferometer Space Antenna} in the low-frequency range, $10^{-4} \:\mathrm{Hz}Read More

We model the present-day number and characteristics of Ultra-compact X-ray binaries (UCXBs) in the Galactic Bulge. The main objective is to compare the results with the forthcoming data from the Galactic Bulge Survey (GBS) in order to learn about formation scenarios, notably core collapse supernova rate, common envelope evolution and dynamical interactions, as well as the binary initial mass function. We use a binary population synthesis code and detailed stellar evolutionary tracks, combined with observations of the 11 known UCXBs. Read More

Hierarchical triple systems are common among field stars yet their long-term evolution is poorly understood theoretically. In such systems Kozai cycles can be induced in the inner binary system during which the inner orbit eccentricity and the inclination between both binary orbits vary periodically. These cycles, combined with tidal friction and gravitational wave emission, can significantly affect the inner binary evolution. Read More

The study of Type Ia supernovae (SNIa) has lead to greatly improved insights into many fields in astrophysics, however a theoretical explanation of the origin of these events is still lacking. We investigate the potential contribution to the SNIa rate from the population of merging double carbon-oxygen white dwarfs. We aim to develope a model that fits the observed SNIa progenitors as well as the observed close double white dwarf population. Read More

We present a first-stage study of the effect of using knowledge from electromagnetic (EM) observations in the gravitational wave (GW) data analysis of Galactic binaries that are predicted to be observed by the new Laser Interferometer Space Antenna in the low-frequency range, $10^{-4} \mathrm{Hz}Read More

The progenitors of supernovae (SNe) type Ia are usually assumed to be either a single white dwarf (WD) accreting from a non-degenerate companion (the SD channel) or the result of two merging WDs (DD channel). However, no consensus currently exists as to which progenitor scenario is the correct one, or whether the observed SN Ia rate is produced by a combination of both channels. Unlike a DD progenitor a SD progenitor is expected to emit supersoft X-rays for a prolonged period of time (~1 Myr) as a result of the burning of accreted matter on the surface of the WD. Read More

Affiliations: 1Southampton, 2SRON/CfA, 3LSU, 4Warwick, 5LSU, 6SRON/CfA/Radboud University, 7Warwick/CfA, 8Amsterdam, 9Radboud University/KU Leuven

We discuss radio sources in the Chandra Galactic Bulge survey region. By cross-matching the X-ray sources in this field with the NVSS archival data, we find 12 candidate matches. We present a classification scheme for radio/X-ray matches in surveys taken in or near the Galactic Plane, taking into account other multi-wavelength data. Read More

Space-based gravitational wave interferometers are sensitive to the galactic population of ultra-compact binaries. An important subset of the ultra-compact binary population are those stars that can be individually resolved by both gravitational wave interferometers and electromagnetic telescopes. The aim of this paper is to quantify the multi-messenger potential of space-based interferometers with arm-lengths between 1 and 5 Gm. Read More

We present the results of the first spectroscopic follow-up of 132 optically blue UV-excess sources selected from the UV-excess survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (UVEX). The UV-excess spectra are classified into different populations and grids of model spectra are fit to determine spectral types, temperatures, surface gravities and reddening. From this initial spectroscopic follow-up 95% of the UV-excess candidates turn out to be genuine UV-excess sources such as white dwarfs, white dwarf binaries, subdwarfs type O and B, emission line stars and QSOs. Read More

We briefly discuss the method of population synthesis to calculate theoretical delay time distributions of type Ia supernova progenitors. We also compare the results of the different research groups and conclude that although one of the main differences in the results for single degenerate progenitors is the retention efficiency with which accreted hydrogen is added to the white dwarf core, this cannot explain all the differences. Read More

Compact Galactic binaries where at least one member is a white dwarf or neutron star constitute the majority of individually detectable sources for future low-frequency space-based gravitational-wave (GW) observatories; they also form an unresolved continuum, the dominant Galactic foreground at frequencies below a few mHz. Due to the paucity of electromagnetic observations, the majority of studies of Galactic-binary populations so far have been based on population-synthesis simulations. However, recent surveys have reported several new detections of white-dwarf binaries, providing new constraints for population estimates. Read More

This document introduces the exciting and fundamentally new science and astronomy that the European New Gravitational Wave Observatory (NGO) mission (derived from the previous LISA proposal) will deliver. The mission (which we will refer to by its informal name "eLISA") will survey for the first time the low-frequency gravitational wave band (about 0.1 mHz to 1 Hz), with sufficient sensitivity to detect interesting individual astrophysical sources out to z = 15. Read More

We present an analysis of Chandra observations of the position of ten nearby (< 25 Mpc) type Ia supernovae, taken before the explosions. No sources corresponding to progenitors were found in any of the observations. We calculated upper limits on the bolometric luminosities of the progenitors assuming black-body X-ray spectra with temperatures of 30-150 eV. Read More

We investigate the possibility of obscuring supersoft X-ray sources in the winds of companion stars. We derive limits on the amount of circumstellar material needed to fully obscure a 'canonical' supersoft X-ray source in the Large Magellanic Cloud, as observed with the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Read More

The millisecond pulsar J1903+0327 is accompanied by an ordinary G-dwarf star in an unusually wide ($P_{\rm orb} \simeq 95.2$\,days) and eccentric ($e \simeq 0.44$) orbit. Read More

We examine pre-supernova Chandra images to find X-ray luminosities of type Ia supernova progenitors. At present, we have one possible direct detection and upper limits for the X-ray luminosities of a number of other supernova progenitors. The method has also yielded a possible detection of a X-ray binary Wolf-Rayet system as the progenitor of a type Ib supernova. Read More

An update is presented to the software package SeBa for simulating single star and binary evolution in which new stellar evolution tracks have been implemented. SeBa is applied to study the population of close double white dwarf and the delay time distribution of double white dwarf mergers that may lead to Supernovae Type Ia. Read More

Affiliations: 1Armagh Observatory, 2Armagh Observatory, 3Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO, 4University of Hertfordshire, 5Radboud University Nijmegen, 6SAAO, 7Queen's University Belfast

The Rapid Temporal Survey (RATS) explores the faint, variable sky. Our observations search a parameter space which, until now, has never been exploited from the ground. Our strategy involves observing the sky close to the Galactic plane with wide-field CCD cameras. Read More

Realistic stellar models are essential to the forward modelling approach in asteroseismology. For practicality however, certain model assumptions are also required. For example, in the case of subdwarf B stars, one usually starts with zero-age horizontal branch structures without following the progenitor evolution. Read More

Affiliations: 1MPE Garching, 2CfA Harvard, 3Radboud University Nijmegen, 4University of Warwick, 5Radboud University Nijmegen, 6CfA Harvard, 7Caltech

We present three new candidate AM CVn binaries, plus one confirmed new system, from a spectroscopic survey of color-selected objects from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. All four systems were found from their helium emission lines in low-resolution spectra taken on the Hale telescope at Palomar, and the Nordic Optical Telescope and the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma. The ultra-compact binary nature of SDSS J090221. Read More

We study the effect of short term variations of the evolution of AM CVn systems on their gravitational wave emissions and in particular LISA observations. We model the systems according to their equilibrium mass-transfer evolution as driven by gravitational wave emission and tidal interaction, and determine their reaction to a sudden perturbation of the system. This is inspired by the suggestion to explain the orbital period evolution of the ultra-compact binary systems V407 Vul and RX-J0806+1527 by non-equilibrium mass transfer. Read More

Affiliations: 1Armagh Observatory, 2Tuorla Observatory, 3Armagh Observatory, 4Univ Warwick, 5Univ Warwick, 6Tuorla Observatory, 7Univ Herts, 8Radboud Univ Nijmegen, 9SAAO, 10Queens Univ Belfast

We report the discovery of an accreting binary, RAT J1953+1859, made during the RApid Temporal Survey (RATS) on the Isaac Newton Telescope. It showed high amplitude (0.3 mag) quasi-periodic oscillations on a timescale of ~20 mins. Read More

Type Ia supernovae are exploding stars that are used to measure the accelerated expansion of the Universe and are responsible for most of the iron ever produced. Although there is general agreement that the exploding star is a white dwarf in a binary system, the exact configuration and trigger of the explosion is unclear, which could hamper their use for precision cosmology. Two families of progenitor models have been proposed. Read More

We present HST/WFPC2, GALEX and Chandra observations of the position of the type Ia supernova SN2007sr in the Antennae galaxies, taken before the explosion. No source is found in any of the observations, allowing us to put interesting constraints on the progenitor luminosity. In total there is about 450 kilosecond of Chandra data, spread over 7 different observations. Read More


We present new Chandra X-ray observations and detailed astrometry of the field of the type Ia supernova 2007on, for which the detection of a likely progenitor in archival Chandra data was recently reported. No source is detected in the new Chandra images, taken six weeks after optical maximum. We calculate a 90-99% probability that any X-ray source near the position of the supernova (SN) is fainter than in the pre-outburst images, depending on the choice of aperture, which supports the identification of the archival X-ray source with the SN. Read More

A number of X-ray binaries (neutron stars or black holes accreting from a companion star) have such short orbital periods that ordinary, hydrogen rich, stars do not fit in. Instead the mass-losing star must be a compact, evolved star, leading to the transfer of hydrogen deficient material to the neutron star. I discuss the current knowledge of these objects, with focus on optical spectroscopy. Read More


Helium that accretes onto a Carbon/Oxygen white dwarf in the double white dwarf AM Canum Venaticorum (AM CVn) binaries undergoes unstable thermonuclear flashes when the orbital period is in the 3.5-25 minute range. At the shortest orbital periods (and highest accretion rates, Mdot > 10^-7 Msol/yr), the flashes are weak and likely lead to the Helium equivalent of classical nova outbursts. Read More

Affiliations: 1MSSL-UCL, 2Nijmegen, 3Warwick, 4Nijmegen, 5CfA, 6Helsinki
Category: Astrophysics

We present the results of XMM-Newton observations of two AM CVn systems - V396 Hya and SDSS J1240-01. Both systems are detected in X-rays and in the UV: neither shows coherent variability in their light curves. We compare the rms variability of the X-ray and UV power spectra of these sources with other AM CVn systems. Read More


We calculate the heating and cooling of the accreting white dwarf (WD) in the ultracompact AM Canum Venaticorum (AM CVn) binaries and show that the WD can contribute significantly to their optical and ultraviolet emission. We estimate the WD's effective temperature, Teff, using the optical continuum for a number of observed binaries, and show that it agrees well with our theoretical calculations. Driven by gravitational radiation losses, the time averaged accretion rate, , decreases monotonically with increasing Porb, covering six orders of magnitude. Read More