Monday, March 18, 2013

1303.3642 (G. Newsham et al.)

Evolution of accreting white dwarfs; some of them continue to grow    [PDF]

G. Newsham, S. Starrfield, F. Timmes
Novae are cataclysmic variable binary systems in which a white dwarf primary is accreting material from a low mass companion. The importance of this accretion takes on added significance if the WD can increase its mass to reach the Chandrasekhar limit thus exploding as a Type Ia supernova. In this study we accrete material of Solar composition onto carbon-oxygen white dwarfs of 0.70, 1.00 and 1.35 Msun with accretion rates from 1.6e-10 to 1.6e-6 Msun per yr. We have utilized the MESA stellar evolution code for our modeling and evolve them for many nova cycles or, in some cases, evolution to a red giant stage. Differing behaviors occur as a function of both the WD mass and the accretion rate. For the lower WD masses, the models undergo recurrent hydrogen flashes at low accretion rates; for higher accretion rates, steady-burning of hydrogen occurs and eventually gives way to recurrent hydrogen flashes. At the highest accretion rates, these models go through a steady-burning phase but eventually transition into red giants. For the highest white dwarf mass recurrent hydrogen flashes occur at lower accretion rates but for higher rates the models exhibit steady-burning interspersed with helium flashes. We find that for all our models that undergo recurrent hydrogen flashes, as well as the steady-burning models that exhibit helium flashes, the mass of the WD continues to grow toward the Chandrasekhar limit. These results suggest that the accretion of Solar abundance material onto carbon-oxygen white dwarfs in cataclysmic variable systems, the single degenerate scenario, is a viable channel for progenitors of Type Ia supernova explosions.
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