Merging in the common envelope and the origin of early R-type stars
INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Collurania,
2 Departament de Física i Enginyeria Nuclear, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Diagonal 647, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
3 Departamento de Física Teórica y del Cosmos, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
Accepted: 13 June 2010
Context. Binary systems experiencing one or two common envelope episodes during the red giant branch or the Hertzsprung gap phases can produce a single star, evolving along the Hayashi track, as a final outcome. Even if these objects are expected to be very common in nature, a proper description of their evolution and physical properties is still missing. Moreover, this scenario (red giant merging scenario) has been invoked as the progenitor systems of early-R stars, by assuming that the physical conditions developed as a consequence of the cores merging could produce the mixing into the convective envelope of fresh carbon that was synthesized during the He-flash.
Aims. We analyze in detail the red giant merging scenario to verify if the resulting star develops the physical conditions suitable for a dredge-up of C-enriched material from the core to the envelope.
Methods. We performed 3D simulations of the merging stars, to check whether He is burnt efficiently during the formation of a self-sustained disk. We therefore did 1D computations of the accretion phase occurring after the merging and of the following evolution up to the settling of quiescent He-burning in the center. We adopted different assumptions on the amount of angular momentum transferred from the disk to the core and on the angular momentum transport.
Results. Efficient He-burning does not occur during the merging, because a very high temperature (T > 108 K) at the disk/He-core interface develops only for a few minutes. Our computations show that the accretion process is the leading parameter in determining the final properties of the merged object. In particular, the thermal energy delivered by the accreted matter determines the heating of the whole newborn core, thus preventing the developing of highly degenerate physical conditions. This occurrence determines the onset of the He-burning with an He-flash milder and closer to the center, as compared to standard RGB stars. Rotation and different angular momentum transport efficiency plays a secondary role by determining the exact location of the first He-flash. In none of the computed models is material formed in the He-core mixed into the convective envelope, because the H-burning shell, which always active during the He-flashes and later on, acts as a barrier.
Conclusions. In the red giant merging scenario, the physical conditions suitable for both a peculiar He-flash and the dredging-up of C-enriched material never occur. Our results speak against the possibility that such an evolutionary scenario could represent the progenitor system of early R-stars.
Key words: stars: evolution / binaries: close / stars: rotation / stars: chemically peculiar / hydrodynamics / accretion: accretion disks
© ESO, 2010