Evolution towards and beyond accretion-induced collapse of massive white dwarfs and formation of millisecond pulsars
1 Argelander-Insitut für Astronomie, Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
3 Department of Physical Sciences, IISER Kolkata, Mohanpur, 741252, Nadia, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Physics & Astronomy, Seoul National University, Gwanak-gu, Gwanak-ro 1, 151-742 Seoul, Korea
Received: 8 April 2013
Accepted: 27 July 2013
Context. Millisecond pulsars (MSPs) are generally believed to be old neutron stars (NSs), formed via type Ib/c core-collapse supernovae (SNe), which have been spun up to high rotation rates via accretion from a companion star in a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB). In an alternative formation channel, NSs are produced via the accretion-induced collapse (AIC) of a massive white dwarf (WD) in a close binary.
Aims. Here we investigate binary evolution leading to AIC and examine if NSs formed in this way can subsequently be recycled to form MSPs and, if so, how they can observationally be distinguished from pulsars formed via the standard core-collapse SN channel in terms of their masses, spins, orbital periods and space velocities.
Methods. Numerical calculations with a detailed stellar evolution code were used for the first time to study the combined pre- and post-AIC evolution of close binaries. We investigated the mass transfer onto a massive WD (treated as a point mass) in 240 systems with three different types of non-degenerate donor stars: main-sequence stars, red giants, and helium stars. When the WD is able to accrete sufficient mass (depending on the mass-transfer rate and the duration of the accretion phase) we assumed it collapses to form a NS and we studied the dynamical effects of this implosion on the binary orbit. Subsequently, we followed the mass-transfer epoch which resumes once the donor star refills its Roche lobe and calculated the continued LMXB evolution until the end.
Results. We show that recycled pulsars may form via AIC from all three types of progenitor systems investigated and find that the final properties of the resulting MSPs are, in general, remarkably similar to those of MSPs formed via the standard core-collapse SN channel. However, as a consequence of the fine-tuned mass-transfer rate necessary to make the WD grow in mass, the resultant MSPs created via the AIC channel preferentially form in certain orbital period intervals. In addition, their predicted small space velocities can also be used to identify them observationally. The production time of NSs formed via AIC can exceed 10 Gyr which can therefore explain the existence of relatively young NSs in globular clusters. Our calculations are also applicable to progenitor binaries of SNe Ia under certain conditions.
Key words: binaries: close / accretion, accretion disks / white dwarfs / supernovae: general / stars: neutron / X-rays: binaries
© ESO, 2013