Journal Article

Smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations of white dwarf collisions and close encounters

P. Lorén-Aguilar, J. Isern and E. García-Berro

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 4, pages 2749-2763
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16878.x
Smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations of white dwarf collisions and close encounters

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The collision of two white dwarfs is a quite frequent event in dense stellar systems, like globular clusters and galactic nuclei. In this paper, we present the results of a set of simulations of the close encounters and collisions of two white dwarfs. We use an up-to-date smoothed particle hydrodynamics code that incorporates very detailed input physics and an improved treatment of the artificial viscosity. Our simulations have been done using a large number of particles (∼4 × 105) and covering a wide range of velocities and initial distances of the colliding white dwarfs. We discuss in detail when the initial eccentric binary white dwarf survives the closest approach, when a lateral collision in which several mass transfer episodes occur is the outcome of the newly formed binary system, and which range of input parameters leads to a direct collision, in which only one mass transfer episode occurs. We also discuss the characteristics of the final configuration and assess the possible observational signatures of the merger, such as the associated gravitational waveforms and the fallback luminosities. We find that the overall evolution of the system and the main characteristics of the final object agree with those found in previous studies. We also find that the fallback luminosities are close to 1048 erg s−1. Finally, we find that in the case of lateral and direct collisions the gravitational waveforms are characterized by large-amplitude peaks which are followed by a ring-down phase, while in the case in which the binary white dwarf survives the closest approach, the gravitational pattern shows a distinctive behaviour, typical of eccentric systems.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances; supernovae: general; white dwarfs; globular clusters: general

Journal Article.  12101 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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