Back to Volume
Paper: Evolution of Very Close Binaries of Low Mass
Volume: 435, Binaries – Key to Comprehension of the Universe
Page: 151
Authors: Eggleton, P. P.
Abstract: Binaries of low total mass (say 1–3 M) and very short period (say ≲ 4 d) are subject to a number of evolutionary processes, such as nuclear evolution, Roche-Lobe overflow, mass loss by stellar wind enhanced by rapid rotation, angular momentum loss by stellar wind with magnetic braking and tidal friction, mass transfer in contact (potentially in either direction), and heat transport from one component to the other during contact. Unfortunately all of these phenomena can be expected to occur on something like the same timescale. This makes it especially difficult to tie a particular system to a particular set of evolutionary processes.

Theory suggests that very close binaries should appear in four morphological forms: detached binaries, semidetached binaries in which the more massive component is the one that fills its Roche lobe (reverse Algols), semidetached binaries in which the less massive component is the one that fills its Roche lobe (normal Algols), and contact, or, as some would say, overcontact binaries, where both components overfill their Roche lobes up to the same equipotential surface. This is not to say that perhaps some other configuration may be important, but I am not sure that any has yet been put forward that is incontrovertible.

I have developed an evolutionary code in which the two components are solved simultaneously, and subject in principle to all six of the processes in the first paragraph. All four morphological forms are achievable by the code, as the physics demands. The code is still preliminary, partly at least because of the difficulty of quantifying all six processes. I will illustrate some possibly peculiar evolutionary scenarios that can emerge; but I will mainly argue, on the basis of observed data from a variety of systems, that it is indeed necessary to include all these processes, and not, for example, to ignore mass loss by stellar wind by claiming that it cannot be strong enough to be significant.
Back to Volume