Volume 642, October 2020
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||16 October 2020|
Alone but not lonely: Observational evidence that binary interaction is always required to form hot subdwarf stars
Institut für Physik und Astronomie, Universität Potsdam, Haus 28, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24/25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
2 ARDASTELLA Research Group, Institute of Physics, Pedagogical University of Krakow, ul. Podchorżych 2, 30-084 Kraków, Poland
Accepted: 9 August 2020
Context. Hot subdwarfs are core-helium burning stars that show lower masses and higher temperatures than canonical horizontal branch stars. They are believed to be formed when a red giant suffers an extreme mass-loss episode. Binary interaction is suggested to be the main formation channel, but the high fraction of apparently single hot subdwarfs (up to 30%) has prompted single star formation scenarios to be proposed.
Aims. We investigate the possibility that hot subdwarfs could form without interaction by studying wide binary systems. If single formation scenarios were possible, there should be hot subdwarfs in wide binaries that have undergone no interaction.
Methods. Angular momentum accretion during interaction is predicted to cause the hot subdwarf companion to spin up to the critical velocity. The effect of this should still be observable given the timescales of the hot subdwarf phase. To study the rotation rates of companions, we have analysed light curves from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite for all known hot subdwarfs showing composite spectral energy distributions indicating the presence of a main sequence wide binary companion. If formation without interaction were possible, that would also imply the existence of hot subdwarfs in very wide binaries that are not predicted to interact. To identify such systems, we have searched for common proper motion companions with projected orbital distances of up to 0.1 pc to all known spectroscopically confirmed hot subdwarfs using Gaia DR2 astrometry.
Results. We find that the companions in composite hot subdwarfs show short rotation periods when compared to field main sequence stars. They display a triangular-shaped distribution with a peak around 2.5 days, similar to what is observed for young open clusters. We also report a shortage of hot subdwarfs with candidate common proper motion companions. We identify only 16 candidates after probing 2938 hot subdwarfs with good astrometry. Out of those, at least six seem to be hierarchical triple systems, in which the hot subdwarf is part of an inner binary.
Conclusions. The observed distribution of rotation rates for the companions in known wide hot subdwarf binaries provides evidence of previous interaction causing spin-up. Additionally, there is a shortage of hot subdwarfs in common proper motion pairs, considering the frequency of such systems among progenitors. These results suggest that binary interaction is always required for the formation of hot subdwarfs.
Key words: subdwarfs / binaries: general / stars: variables: general
© ESO 2020
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