Thermal timescale mass transfer and the evolution of white dwarf binaries

Natalia Ivanova*, Ronald E. Taam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The evolution of binaries consisting of evolved main-sequence stars (1 < Md/M < 3.5) with white dwarf companions (0. 7 < Mwd/M < 1.2) is investigated through the thermal mass-transfer phase. Taking into account the stabilizing effect of a strong, optically thick wind from the accreting white dwarf surface, we have explored the formation of several evolutionary groups of systems for progenitors with initial orbital periods of 1 and 2 days. The numerical results show that CO white dwarfs can accrete sufficient mass to evolve to a Type Ia supernova, and ONeMg white dwarfs can be built up to undergo accretion-induced collapse for donors more massive than about 2 M. For donors less massive than ∼2 M, the system can evolve to form an He and CO or ONeMg white dwarf pair. In addition, sufficient helium can be accumulated (∼0.1 M) in systems characterized by 1.6 ≲ Md/M ≲ 1.9 and 0.8 ≲ M wd/M ≲ 1 such that sub-Chandrasekhar-mass models for Type la supernovae, involving off-center helium ignition, are possible for progenitor systems evolving via the Case A masstransfer phase. For systems characterized by mass ratios ≳3, the system likely merges as a result of the occurrence of a delayed dynamical mass-transfer instability. We develop a semianalytical model to delineate these phases that can be easily incorporated in population synthesis studies of these systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1066
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004


  • Binaries: close
  • Novae, cataclysmic variables
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: mass loss
  • Supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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