Journal Article

Explosive common-envelope ejection: implications for gamma-ray bursts and low-mass black-hole binaries

Philipp Podsiadlowski, Natasha Ivanova, Stephen Justham and Saul Rappaport

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 2, pages 840-847
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16751.x
Explosive common-envelope ejection: implications for gamma-ray bursts and low-mass black-hole binaries

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We present a new mechanism for the ejection of a common envelope in a massive binary, where the energy source is nuclear energy rather than orbital energy. This can occur during the slow merger of a massive primary with a secondary of 1–3 M when the primary has already completed helium core burning. We show that in the final merging phase, hydrogen-rich material from the secondary can be injected into the helium-burning shell of the primary. This leads to a nuclear runaway and the explosive ejection of both the hydrogen and the helium layers, producing a close binary containing a CO star and a low-mass companion. We argue that this presents a viable scenario to produce short-period black-hole binaries and long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs). We estimate an LGRB rate of ∼ 10−6 yr−1 at solar metallicity, which implies that this may account for a significant fraction of all LGRBs and that this rate should be higher at lower metallicity.

Keywords: binaries: general; gamma-ray burst: general; stars: individual: X-ray Nova Sco; X-rays: binaries; X-rays: stars

Journal Article.  6561 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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