AbstractsAstronomy & Space Science

White dwarf dynamical interactions

by Gabriela Aznar Siguan

Institution: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Year: 2015
Record ID: 1125389
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10803/290737


Merging white dwarfs is a promising channel to trigger Type Ia supernovae, known as the double degenerate scenario. Supernovae are stellar explosions that radiate as much energy as any ordinary star is expected to emit over its entire life span, outshining briefly the whole hosting galaxy. They enrich the interstellar medium with higher mass elements and trigger the formation of new stars by the produced expanding shock. Additionally, Type Ia supernovae have been used as standard candles and have allowed the discovery that the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate. Despite the important role that Type Ia supernovae play in Astrophysics, we still do not know what stellar systems give rise to them. There are approximately a few hundred million double white dwarf systems in the Milky Way alone and their study would help to establish whether one can produce sufficient Type Ia explosions via this route. Nevertheless, even if a white dwarf merger does not succeed in exploding as a Type Ia supernova, other interesting phenomena might result. R Coronae Borealis, magnetars and high-field magnetic white dwarfs, or at least some of them, could be the product of some white dwarf mergers. In this thesis we study first two different scenarios which involve two interacting white dwarfs. They differ from the classical double degenerate scenario in the mechanism which makes both stars interact. First we consider the core degenerate scenario. In this case the merger of both white dwarfs is triggered by the interaction with a circumbinary disk. This disk is made up of the material that falls back after the ejection of the common envelope, at the final stages of the common envelope phase which precedes the formation of the white dwarf binary system. As the binary system transfers angular momentum to the circumbinary disk, the separation of the pair decreases and the eccentricity of the system increases while the core of the post-AGB star, the proto-white dwarf, is still hot. For massive enough disks the decrease of the orbital separation is enough to drive a merger before the disk is ejected. Then, the merger occurs in an eccentric orbit with a hot binary component, in contrast to the conditions found in the classical double degenerate scenario, which is driven by gravitational radiation. Otherwise, if the disk is not massive enough, the merger is driven by gravitational wave emission and the orbit is nearly circular, while the core of the AGB star is cold. Secondly, we studied different white dwarf close encounters. These interactions occur in dense and old stellar systems, as globular clusters and galactic nuclei, or in multiple stellar systems, where a white dwarf binary is perturbed by a third star. We perform several simulations of close encounters of white dwarfs with different masses and compositions, and obtain three different outcomes. Either an eccentric binary is formed, or a lateral or a direct collision occur. We compute when detonation conditions are met and when one or both white dwarfs are disrupted.…