Wide binary effects on asymmetries in asymptotic giant branch circumstellar envelopes

Hyosun Kim*, Ronald E. Taam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Observations of increasingly higher spatial resolution reveal the existence of asymmetries in the circumstellar envelopes of a small fraction of asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars. Although there is no general consensus for their origin, a binary companion star may be responsible. Within this framework, we investigate the gravitational effects associated with a sufficiently wide binary system, where Roche lobe overflow is unimportant, on the outflowing envelopes of AGB stars using three-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations. The effects due to individual binary components are separately studied, enabling the investigation of the stellar and circumstellar characteristics in detail. The reflex motion of the AGB star alters the wind velocity distribution, thereby determining the overall shape of the outflowing envelope. On the other hand, the interaction of the companion with the envelope produces a gravitational wake, which exhibits a vertically thinner shape. The two patterns overlap and form clumpy structures. To illustrate the diversity of shapes, we present the numerical results as a function of inclination angle. Not only is spiral structure produced by the binary interaction, but arc patterns are also found that represent the former structure when viewed at different inclinations. The arcs reveal a systematic shift of their centers of curvature for cases when the orbital speed of the AGB star is comparable to its wind speed. They take on the shape of a peanut for inclinations nearly edge-on. In the limit of slow orbital motion of the AGB star relative to the wind speed, the arc pattern becomes nearly spherically symmetric. We find that the aspect ratio of the overall oblate shape of the pattern is an important diagnostic probe of the binary as it can be used to constrain the orbital velocity of the AGB star, and moreover, the binary mass ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


  • circumstellar matter
  • hydrodynamics
  • stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • stars: late-type
  • stars: mass-loss
  • stars: winds, outflows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Wide binary effects on asymmetries in asymptotic giant branch circumstellar envelopes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this