Journal Article

The long and the short of it: modelling double neutron star and collapsar Galactic dynamics

Paul D. Kiel, Jarrod R. Hurley and Matthew Bailes

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 1, pages 656-672
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16717.x
The long and the short of it: modelling double neutron star and collapsar Galactic dynamics

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Understanding the nature of galactic populations of double compact binaries (where both stars are a neutron star or black hole) has been a topic of interest for many years, particularly the coalescence rate of these binaries. The only observed systems thus far are double neutron star systems containing one or more radio pulsars. However, theorists have postulated that short-duration gamma-ray bursts may be evidence of coalescing double neutron star or neutron star–black hole binaries, while long-duration gamma-ray bursts are possibly formed by tidally enhanced rapidly rotating massive stars that collapse to form black holes (collapsars). The work presented here examines populations of double compact binary systems and tidally enhanced collapsars. We make use of binpop and binkin, two components of a recently developed population synthesis package. Results focus on correlations of both binary and spatial evolutionary population characteristics. Pulsar and long-duration gamma-ray burst observations are used in concert with our models to draw the conclusions that (i) double neutron star binaries can merge rapidly on time-scales of a few million years (much less than that found for the observed double neutron star population), (ii) common-envelope evolution within these models is a very important phase in double neutron star formation and (iii) observations of long gamma-ray burst projected distances are more centrally concentrated than our simulated coalescing double neutron star and collapsar Galactic populations. Better agreement is found with dwarf galaxy models although the outcome is strongly linked to the assumed birth radial distribution. The birth rate of the double neutron star population in our models ranges from 4 to 160 Myr−1 and the merger rate ranges from 3 to 150 Myr−1. The upper and lower limits of the rates result from including electron-capture supernova kicks to neutron stars and decreasing the common-envelope efficiency, respectively. Our double black hole merger rates suggest that black holes should receive an asymmetric kick at birth.

Keywords: binaries: close; stars: evolution; pulsars: general; stars: neutron; Galaxy: stellar content; gamma-ray burst: genreal

Journal Article.  13984 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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