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White Dwarfs in Ultrashort Binary Systems

  • Gian Luca Israel
  • Simone Dall'Osso
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 359)

White dwarf binaries are thought to be the most common binaries in the Universe: in our Galaxy their number is estimated to be as high as 108. In addition, most stars are known to be part of binary systems, roughly half of which have orbital periods short enough that the evolution of the two stars is strongly influenced by the presence of a companion. Furthermore, it has become clear from observed close binaries, that a large fraction of binaries that interacted in the past must have lost considerable amounts of angular momentum, thus forming compact binaries, with compact stellar components. The details of the evolution leading to the loss of angular momentum are uncertain, but generally this is interpreted in the framework of the so-called “common-envelope evolution”: the picture that in a mass-transfer phase between a giant and a more compact companion, the companion quickly ends up inside the giant's envelope, after which frictional processes slow down the companion and the core of the giant, causing the “common envelope” to be expelled, as well as the orbital separation to shrink dramatically [55].

Among the most compact binaries known, often called ultra-compact or ultra-short binaries, are those hosting two white dwarfs and classified into two types: detached binaries, in which the two components are relatively widely separated and interacting binaries, in which mass is transferred from one component to the other. In the latter class a white dwarf is accreting from a white dwarf like object (we often refer to them as AM CVn systems, after the prototype of the class, the variable star AM CVn; [56, 28]).

Keywords

Orbital Period White Dwarf Orbit Coupling Orbital Evolution Common Envelope 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Canopus Publishing Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gian Luca Israel
    • 1
  • Simone Dall'Osso
    • 1
  1. 1.INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di RomaMonteporzio CatoneItaly

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