Population synthesis of triple systems in the context of mergers of carbon-oxygen white dwarfs

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. To investigate these effects quantitatively we perform a population synthesis study of triple systems and focus on evolutionary paths that lead to mergers of carbon-oxygen (CO) white dwarfs (WDs), which constitute an important candidate progenitor channel for type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). We approach this problem by Monte Carlo sampling from observation-based distributions of systems within the primary mass range 1.0 - 6.5 M_Sun and inner orbit semi-major axes a_1 and eccentricities e_1 satisfying a_1 (1-e_1^2) > 12 AU, i.e. non-interacting in the absence of a tertiary component. We evolve these systems by means of a newly developed algorithm that couples secular triple dynamics with an existing binary population synthesis code. We find that the tertiary significantly alters the inner binary evolution in about 24% of all sampled systems. In particular, we find several channels leading to CO WD mergers. Amongst these is a novel channel in which a collision occurs in wide inner binary systems as a result of extremely high eccentricities induced by Kozai cycles. With assumptions on which CO WD mergers lead to a SN Ia explosion we estimate the SNe Ia delay time distribution resulting from triples and compare to a binary population synthesis study and to observations. Although we find that our triple rate is low, we have determined a lower limit of the triple-induced SNe Ia rate and further study is needed that includes triples with initially tighter inner orbits.

Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS. 20 pages, 14 figures

Similar Publications

Interstellar gas clouds are often both highly magnetized and supersonically turbulent, with velocity dispersions set by a competition between driving and dissipation. This balance has been studied extensively in the context of gases with constant mean density. However, many astrophysical systems are contracting under the influence of external pressure or gravity, and the balance between driving and dissipation in a contracting, magnetized medium has yet to be studied. Read More


Although observational data unequivocally point out to the presence of chromospheres in red giant stars, no attempts have been made so far to model them using 3D hydrodynamical model atmospheres. We therefore compute an exploratory 3D hydrodynamical model atmosphere for a cool red giant in order to study the dynamical and thermodynamic properties of its chromosphere, as well as the influence of the chromosphere on its observable properties. 3D radiation hydrodynamics simulations are carried out with the CO5BOLD model atmosphere code for a star with the atmospheric parameters (Teff=4010 K, log g=1. Read More


Observational studies reveal that complex organic molecules (COMs) can be found in various objects associated with different star formation stages. The identification of COMs in prestellar cores, i.e. Read More


As part of the Accretion Discs in H$\alpha$ with OmegaCAM (ADHOC) survey, we imaged in r, i and H-alpha a region of 12x8 square degrees around the Orion Nebula Cluster. Thanks to the high-quality photometry obtained, we discovered three well-separated pre-main sequences in the color-magnitude diagram. The populations are all concentrated towards the cluster's center. Read More


Understanding the governing mechanism of solar magnetism remains an outstanding challenge in astrophysics. Seismology is the most compelling technique with which to infer the internal properties of the Sun and stars. Waves in the Sun, nominally acoustic, are sensitive to the emergence and cyclical strengthening of magnetic field, evidenced by measured changes in resonant oscillation frequencies that are correlated with the solar cycle. Read More


We have expanded upon earlier work that investigates the relative importance of coronal loops with isothermal $versus$ multithermal cross-field temperature distributions. These results are important for determining if loops have substructure in the form of unresolved magnetic strands. We have increased the number of loops targeted for temperature analysis from 19 to 207 with the addition of 188 new loops from multiple regions. Read More


SW Sextantis stars are a class of cataclysmic variables originally defined via certain peculiar properties that they all have in common. In this article, I review our knowledge of these stars and show the way from a phenomenological classification to a physical understanding of these systems. The fact that SW Sex stars accumulate at the upper edge of the period gap is discussed with respect to the secular evolution of cataclysmic variables. Read More


Supermassive primordial stars forming in atomically-cooled halos at $z \sim15-20$ are currently thought to be the progenitors of the earliest quasars in the Universe. In this picture, the star evolves under accretion rates of $0.1 - 1$ $M_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$ until the general relativistic instability triggers its collapse to a black hole at masses of $\sim10^5$ $M_\odot$. Read More


We present coronagraphic long slit spectra of AU Mic's debris disk taken with the STIS instrument aboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Our spectra are the first spatially resolved, scattered light spectra of the system's disk, which we detect at projected distances between approximately 10 and 45 AU. Our spectra cover a wavelength range between 5200 and 10200 \AA. Read More


This study focuses on the formation of two molecules of astrobiological importance - glycolaldehyde (HC(O)CH2OH) and ethylene glycol (H2C(OH)CH2OH) - by surface hydrogenation of CO molecules. Our experiments aim at simulating the CO freeze-out stage in interstellar dark cloud regions, well before thermal and energetic processing become dominant. It is shown that along with the formation of H2CO and CH3OH - two well established products of CO hydrogenation - also molecules with more than one carbon atom form. Read More