J. Hwang, J. C. Lombardi, F. A. Rasio, V. Kalogera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Massive stars are usually found in binaries, and binaries with periods less than 10 days may have a preference for near equal component masses ("twins"). In this paper we investigate the evolution of massive twin binaries all the way to contact and the possibility that these systems can be progenitors of double neutron star binaries. The small orbital separations of observed double neutron star binaries suggest that the progenitor systems underwent a common envelope phase at least once during their evolution. Bethe & Brown proposed that massive binary twins will undergo a common envelope evolution while both components are ascending the red giant branch (RGB) or asymptotic giant branch (AGB) simultaneously, also known as double-core evolution. Using models generated from the stellar evolution code EZ (evolve zero-age main sequence), we determine the range of mass ratios resulting in a contact binary with both components simultaneously ascending the RGB or AGB as a function of the difference in birth times, Δτ. We find that, even for a generous Δτ = 5 Myr, the minimum mass ratio for an primary and increases for larger mass primaries. We use a smoothed particle hydrodynamics code, StarSmasher, to study specifically the evolution of q = 1 common envelope systems as a function of initial component mass, age, and orbital separation. We also consider a q = 0.997 system to test the effect of relaxing the constraint of strictly identical components. We find the dynamical stability limit, the largest orbital separation where the binary becomes dynamically unstable, as a function of the component mass and age. Finally, we calculate the efficiency of ejecting matter during the inspiral phase to extrapolate the properties of the remnant binary from our numerical results, assuming the common envelope is completely ejected. We find that for the nominal core masses, there is a minimum orbital separation for a given component mass such that the helium cores survive common envelope evolution in a tightly bound binary and are viable progenitors for double neutron stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number135
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2015


  • binaries: close
  • binaries: general
  • hydrodynamics
  • instabilities
  • methods: numerical
  • stars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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