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On the consequences of low-mass white dwarf mergers
Iben, Icko, Jr.
AA(Illinois, University, Urbana; Pennsylvania State University, University Park)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 353, April 10, 1990, p. 215-235. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Binary Stars, Stellar Mass, White Dwarf Stars, Helium, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, Stellar Interiors, Stellar Mass Accretion, Stellar Temperature, Subdwarf Stars
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The theory of binary star evolution suggests that about 10 percent of all main-sequence binary systems should evolve into a close pair of light white dwarfs which merge within a Hubble time. This paper explores the consequences of such mergers on the assumption that a merger can be approximated by a mass-transfer event which occurs on a time scale shorter than that given by the Eddington accretion limit. The evolution of He + He mergers and of CO + He and of hybrid + He mergers are discussed. The birthrate of helium degenerate pairs which merge in less than a Hubble time is estimated, and the space density of low-luminosity merger products currently present in the Galaxy is predicted. It is shown that the evolutionary tracks of models of simulated mergers pass through the region in the H-R diagram occupied by subdwarfs, but that the predicted space density of merger products exceeds by over a factor of three the space density of subdwarf estimated form the known sample of such stars.

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