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The formation of a helium white dwarf in a close binary system with diffusion


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We study the evolution of a system composed of a 1.4-M neutron star and a normal, solar composition star of 2 M in orbit with a period of 1 d. Calculations were performed employing the binaryhydrocode presented by Benvenuto & De Vito that handle the mass transfer rate in a fully implicit way. We then included the main standard physical ingredients together with the diffusion processes and a proper outer boundary condition. We have assumed fully non-conservative mass transfer episodes.

In order to study the interplay of mass loss episodes and diffusion we considered evolutionary sequences with and without diffusion in which all Roche lobe overflows (RLOFs) produce mass transfer. Another two sequences in which thermonuclearly driven RLOFs were not allowed to drive mass transfer have been computed with and without diffusion. As far as we are aware, this study represents the first binary evolution calculations in which diffusion is considered.

The system produces a helium white dwarf of ∼0.21 M in an orbit with a period of ∼4.3 d for the four cases. We find that mass transfer episodes induced by hydrogen thermonuclear flashes drive a tiny amount of mass transfer. As diffusion produces stronger flashes, the amount of hydrogen-rich matter transferred is slightly higher than in the models without diffusion.

We find that diffusion is the main agent in determining the evolutionary time-scale of low-mass white dwarfs even in the presence of mass transfer episodes.
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Keywords: binaries: general; stars: evolution; stars: interiors

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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