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Astron. Astrophys. 327, 620-635

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Stability criteria for mass transfer in binary stellar evolution

G. E. Soberman1, E.S. Phinney1, and E.P.J. van den Heuvel2

1Theoretical Astrophysics, 130-33 California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
2Astronomical Institute and Center for High Energy Astrophysics (CHEAF), University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Received 18 December 1996 / Accepted 26 May 1997


The evolution of a binary star system by various analytic approximations of mass transfer is discussed, with particular attention payed to the stability of these processes against runaway on the thermal and dynamical timescales of the mass donating star. Mass transfer in red giant - neutron star binary systems is used as a specific example of such mass transfer, and is investigated. Hjellming & Webbink's (1987) results on the dynamic timescale response of a convective star with a core to mass loss are applied, with new results.

It is found that mass transfer is usually stable, as long as the wind's specific angular momentum does not exceed the angular momentum per reduced mass of the system. This holds for both dynamical and thermal timescales. Those systems which are not stable will usually transfer mass on the thermal timescale. Included are graphs illustrating the variation of FORMULA with mass ratio in the binary, for various parameters in the non-conservative mass transfer, as well as evolutionary paths of interacting red giant neutron star binaries.

Key words: close binaries - tidal interaction - mass transfer

Send offprint requests to: G. E. Soberman; Internet Address: soberman@tapir.Caltech.EDU

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: October 14, 1997
Last change: April 6, 1998