Nathan W.C. Leigh, Aaron M. Geller, Silvia Toonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Binary mass transfer (MT) is at the forefront of some of the most exciting puzzles of modern astrophysics, including SNe Ia, gamma-ray bursts, and the formation of most observed exotic stellar populations. Typically, the evolution is assumed to proceed in isolation, even in dense stellar environments such as star clusters. In this paper, we test the validity of this assumption via the analysis of a large grid of binary evolution models simulated with the SeBa code. For every binary, we calculate analytically the mean time until another single or binary star comes within the mean separation of the mass-transferring binary, and compare this timescale to the mean time for stable MT to occur. We then derive the probability for each respective binary to experience a direct dynamical interruption. The resulting probability distribution can be integrated to give an estimate for the fraction of binaries undergoing MT that are expected to be disrupted as a function of the host cluster properties. We find that for lower-mass clusters (≲104 M), on the order of a few to a few tens of percent of binaries undergoing MT are expected to be interrupted by an interloping single, or more often binary, star, over the course of the cluster lifetime, whereas in more massive globular clusters we expect 蠐1% to be interrupted. Furthermore, using numerical scattering experiments performed with the FEWBODY code, we show that the probability of interruption increases if perturbative fly-bys are considered as well, by a factor ∼2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2016


  • binaries: close
  • binaries: general
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • globular clusters: general
  • open clusters and associations: general
  • stars: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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