Volume 608, December 2017
|Number of page(s)||22|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||29 November 2017|
Ionizing spectra of stars that lose their envelope through interaction with a binary companion: role of metallicity
1 Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
e-mail: Y.L.L.Gotberg@uva.nl; S.E.deMink@uva.nl
2 School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, 2 Dublin, Ireland
Received: 20 January 2017
Accepted: 21 July 2017
Understanding ionizing fluxes of stellar populations is crucial for various astrophysical problems including the epoch of reionization. Short-lived massive stars are generally considered as the main stellar sources. We examine the potential role of less massive stars that lose their envelope through interaction with a binary companion. Here, we focus on the role of metallicity (Z). For this purpose we used the evolutionary code MESA and created tailored atmosphere models with the radiative transfer code CMFGEN. We show that typical progenitors, with initial masses of 12 M⊙, produce hot and compact stars (~ 4 M⊙, 60–80 kK, ~1 R⊙). These stripped stars copiously produce ionizing photons, emitting 60–85% and 30–60% of their energy as HI and HeI ionizing radiation, for Z = 0.0001–0.02, respectively. Their output is comparable to what massive stars emit during their Wolf-Rayet phase, if we account for their longer lifetimes and the favorable slope of the initial mass function. Their relative importance for reionization may be further favored since they emit their photons with a time delay (~ 20 Myr after birth in our fiducial model). This allows time for the dispersal of the birth clouds, allowing the ionizing photons to escape into the intergalactic medium. At low Z, we find that Roche stripping fails to fully remove the H-rich envelope, because of the reduced opacity in the subsurface layers. This is in sharp contrast with the assumption of complete stripping that is made in rapid population synthesis simulations, which are widely used to simulate the binary progenitors of supernovae and gravitational waves. Finally, we discuss the urgency to increase the observed sample of stripped stars to test these models and we discuss how our predictions can help to design efficient observational campaigns.
Key words: binaries: close / ultraviolet: general / stars: atmospheres / subdwarfs / stars: Wolf-Rayet / stars: mass-loss
© ESO, 2017
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