Robert Izzard's Pages of Astronomical Happiness

  Science • Papers of 2015
2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 PhD
The strange evolution of the Large Magellanic Cloud Cepheid OGLE-LMC-CEP1812
H.R. Neilson, R.G. Izzard, N. Langer, R. Ignace
Classical Cepheids are key probes of both stellar astrophysics and cosmology as standard candles and pulsating variable stars. It is important to understand Cepheids in unprecedented detail in preparation for upcoming GAIA, JWST and extremely-large telescope observations. Cepheid eclipsing binary stars are ideal tools for achieving this goal, however there are currently only three known systems. One of those systems, OGLE-LMC-CEP1812, raises new questions about the evolution of classical Cepheids because of an apparent age discrepancy between the Cepheid and its red giant companion. We show that the Cepheid component is actually the product of a stellar merger of two main sequence stars that has since evolved across the Hertzsprung gap of the HR diagram. This post-merger product appears younger than the companion, hence the apparent age discrepancy is resolved. We discuss this idea and consequences for understanding Cepheid evolution.
Did the progenitor of SN 2011dh have a binary companion?
J.R. Maund, I. Arcavi, M. Ergon, J.J. Eldridge, C. Georgy, S.B. Cenko, A. Horesh, R.G. Izzard, R.J. Stancliffe
We present late-time Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ultraviolet (UV) and optical observations of the site of SN 2011dh in the galaxy M51, ~1164 days post-explosion. At the SN location, we observe a point source that is visible at all wavelengths, that is significantly fainter than the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the Yellow Supergiant progenitor observed prior to explosion. The previously reported photometry of the progenitor is, therefore, completely unaffected by any sources that may persist at the SN location after explosion. In comparison with the previously reported late-time photometric evolution of SN 2011dh, we find that the light curve has plateaued at all wavelengths. The SED of the late-time source is clearly inconsistent with a SED of stellar origin. Although the SED is bright at UV wavelengths, there is no strong evidence that the late-time luminosity originates solely from a stellar source corresponding to the binary companion, although a partial contribution to the observed UV flux from a companion star can not be ruled out.
Modelling the observed properties of carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars using binary population synthesis
C. Abate, O. R. Pols, R.J. Stancliffe, R. G. Izzard, A. I. Karakas, T. C. Beers, Y. S. Lee
The stellar population in the Galactic halo is characterised by a large fraction of CEMP stars. Most CEMP stars are enriched in s-elements (CEMP-s stars), and some of these are also enriched in r-elements (CEMP-s/r stars). One formation scenario proposed for CEMP stars invokes wind mass transfer in the past from a TP-AGB primary star to a less massive companion star which is presently observed. We generate low-metallicity populations of binary stars to reproduce the observed CEMP-star fraction. In addition, we aim to constrain our wind mass-transfer model and investigate under which conditions our synthetic populations reproduce observed abundance distributions. We compare the CEMP fractions and the abundance distributions determined from our synthetic populations with observations. Several physical parameters of the binary stellar population of the halo are uncertain, e.g. the initial mass function, the mass-ratio and orbital-period distributions, and the binary fraction. We vary the assumptions in our model about these parameters, as well as the wind mass-transfer process, and study the consequent variations of our synthetic CEMP population. The CEMP fractions calculated in our synthetic populations vary between 7% and 17%, a range consistent with the CEMP fractions among very metal-poor stars recently derived from the SDSS/SEGUE data sample. The results of our comparison between the modelled and observed abundance distributions are different for CEMP-s/r stars and for CEMP-s stars. For the latter, our simulations qualitatively reproduce the observed distributions of C, Na, Sr, Ba, Eu, and Pb. Contrarily, for CEMP-s/r stars our model cannot reproduce the large abundances of neutron-rich elements such as Ba, Eu, and Pb. This result is consistent with previous studies, and suggests that CEMP-s/r stars experienced a different nucleosynthesis history to CEMP-s stars.
The interaction of core-collapse supernova ejecta with a companion star
Z. Liu, T.M. Tauris, F.K. Roepke, T.J. Moriya, M. Kruckow, R.J. Stancliffe, R.G. Izzard
The progenitors of many CCSNe are expected to be in binary systems. After the SN explosion, the companion may suffer from mass stripping and be shock heated as a result of the impact of the SN ejecta. If the binary system is disrupted, the companion is ejected as a runaway and hypervelocity star. By performing a series of 3D hydrodynamical simulations of the collision of SN ejecta with the companion star, we investigate how CCSN explosions affect their companions. We use the BEC code to construct the detailed companion structure at the time of SN explosion. The impact of the SN blast wave on the companion is followed by means of 3D SPH simulations using the Stellar GADGET code. For main-sequence (MS) companions, we find that the amount of removed mass, impact velocity, and chemical contamination of the companion that results from the impact of the SN ejecta, strongly increases with decreasing binary separation and increasing explosion energy. Their relationship can be approximately fitted by power laws, which is consistent with the results obtained from impact simulations of SNe~Ia. However, we find that the impact velocity is sensitive to the momentum profile of the outer SN ejecta and, in fact, may decrease with increasing ejecta mass, depending on the modeling of the ejecta. Because most companions to Ib/c CCSNe are in their MS phase at the moment of the explosion, combined with the strongly decaying impact effects with increasing binary separation, we argue that the majority of these SNe lead to inefficient mass stripping and shock heating of the companion star following the impact of the ejecta. Our simulations show that the impact effects of Ib/c SN ejecta on the structure of MS companions, and thus their long-term post-explosion evolution, is in general not dramatic. We find that at most 10% of their mass is lost, and their resulting impact velocities are less than 100 km/s.
Observable fractions of core-collapse supernova light curves brightened by binary companions
T.J. Moriya, Z. Liu, R.G. Izzard
Many core-collapse supernova progenitors are presumed to be in binary systems. If a star explodes in a binary system, the early supernova light curve can be brightened by the collision of the supernova ejecta with the companion star. The early brightening can be observed when the observer is in the direction of the hole created by the collision. Based on a population synthesis model, we estimate the fractions of core-collapse supernovae in which the light-curve brightening by the collision can be observed. We find that 0.19% of core-collapse supernova light curves can be observed with the collisional brightening. Type Ibc supernova light curves are more likely to be brightened by the collision (0.53%) because of the high fraction of the progenitors being in binary systems and their proximity to the companion stars. Type II and IIb supernova light curves are less affected (~1e-3% and ~1e-2%, respectively). Although the early, slow light-curve declines of some Type IIb and Ibc supernovae are argued to be caused by the collision with the companion star (e.g. SN 2008D), the small expected fraction, as well as the unrealistically small separation required, disfavour the argument. The future transient survey by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is expected to detect ~10 Type Ibc supernovae with the early collisional brightening per year, and they will be able to provide information on supernova progenitors in binary systems.
Evolution of mass functions of coeval stars through wind mass loss and binary interactions
F.R.N. Schneider, R.G. Izzard, N. Langer, S.E. de Mink

High-mass end ofthe mass functions of coeval stellar populations with different IMF slopes and metallicities.
Accurate determinations of stellar mass functions and ages of stellar populations are crucial to much of astrophysics. We analyse the evolution of stellar mass functions of coeval main sequence stars including all relevant aspects of single- and binary-star evolution. We show that the slope of the upper part of the mass function in a stellar cluster can be quite different to the slope of the initial mass function. Wind mass loss from massive stars leads to an accumulation of stars which is visible as a peak at the high mass end of mass functions, thereby flattening the mass function slope. Mass accretion and mergers in close binary systems create a tail of rejuvenated binary products. These blue straggler stars extend the single star mass function by up to a factor of two in mass and can appear up to ten times younger than their parent stellar cluster. Cluster ages derived from their most massive stars that are close to the turn-off may thus be significantly biased. To overcome such difficulties, we propose the use of the binary tail of stellar mass functions as an unambiguous clock to derive the cluster age because the location of the onset of the binary tail identifies the cluster turn-off mass. It is indicated by a pronounced jump in the mass function of old stellar populations and by the wind mass loss peak in young stellar populations. We further characterise the binary induced blue straggler population in star clusters in terms of their frequency, binary fraction and apparent age.
Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars: a window on AGB nucleosynthesis and binary evolution. I. Detailed analysis of 15 binary stars with known orbital periods
C. Abate, O.R. Pols, A. I. Karakas, R.G. Izzard
AGB stars are responsible for producing a variety of elements, including carbon, nitrogen, and the heavy elements produced in the slow neutron-capture process (s-elements). There are many uncertainties involved in modelling the evolution and nucleosynthesis of AGB stars, and this is especially the case at low metallicity, where most of the stars with high enough masses to enter the AGB have evolved to become white dwarfs and can no longer be observed. The stellar population in the Galactic halo is of low mass (≲0.85M⊙) and only a few observed stars have evolved beyond the first giant branch. However, we have evidence that low-metallicity AGB stars in binary systems have interacted with their low-mass secondary companions in the past. The aim of this work is to investigate AGB nucleosynthesis at low metallicity by studying the surface abundances of chemically peculiar very metal-poor stars of the halo observed in binary systems. To this end we select a sample of 15 carbon- and s-element-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP-s) halo stars that are found in binary systems with measured orbital periods. With our model of binary evolution and AGB nucleosynthesis, we determine the binary configuration that best reproduces, at the same time, the observed orbital period and surface abundances of each star of the sample. The observed periods provide tight constraints on our model of wind mass transfer in binary stars, while the comparison with the observed abundances tests our model of AGB nucleosynthesis.

Best-fitting model to the star CS22942-019.
Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars: a window on AGB nucleosynthesis and binary evolution. II. Statistical analysis of a sample of 67 CEMP-s stars
C. Abate, O.R. Pols, R.G. Izzard, A.I. Karakas
Many observed CEMP stars are found in binary systems and show enhanced abundances of s-elements. The origin of the chemical abundances of these CEMP-s stars is believed to be accretion in the past of enriched material from a primary star in the AGB phase. We investigate the mechanism of mass transfer and the process of nucleosynthesis in low-metallicity AGB stars by modelling the binary systems in which the observed CEMP-s stars were formed. For this purpose we compare a sample of 67 CEMP-s stars with a grid of binary stars generated by our binary evolution and nucleosynthesis model. We classify our sample CEMP-s stars in three groups based on the observed abundance of europium. In CEMP-s/r stars the europium-to-iron ratio is more than ten times higher than in the Sun, whereas it is lower than this threshold in CEMP-s/nr stars. No measurement of europium is currently available for CEMP-s/ur stars. On average our models reproduce well the abundances observed in CEMP-s/nr stars, whereas in CEMP-s/r stars and CEMP-s/ur stars the abundances of the light-s elements are systematically overpredicted by our models and in CEMP-s/r stars the abundances of the heavy-s elements are underestimated. In all stars our modelled abundances of sodium overestimate the observations. This discrepancy is reduced only in models that underestimate the abundances of most of the s-elements. Furthermore, the abundance of lead is underpredicted in most of our model stars. These results point to the limitations of our AGB nucleosynthesis model, particularly in the predictions of the element-to-element ratios. Finally, in our models CEMP-s stars are typically formed in wide systems with periods above 10000 days, while most of the observed CEMP-s stars are found in relatively close orbits with periods below 5000 days.
HV2112, a Thorne-Zytkow Object or a Super Asymptotic Giant Branch Star
Tout, Zytkow, Church, Lau, Izzard, Doherty
The very bright red star HV2112 in the Small Magellanic Cloud could be a massive Thorne-Zytkow Object, a supergiant-like star with a degenerate neutron core. With its luminosity of over 105L⊙, it could also be a super asymptotic giant branch star, a star with an oxygen/neon core supported by electron degeneracy and undergoing thermal pulses with third dredge up. Both TZOs and SAGB stars are expected to be rare. Abundances of heavy elements in HV2112's atmosphere, as observed to date, do not allow us to distinguish between the two possibilities based on the latest models. Molybdenum and rubidium can be enhanced by both the irp-process in a TZO or by the s-process in SAGB stars. Lithium can be generated by hot bottom burning at the base of the convective envelope in either. HV2112's enhanced calcium could thus be the key determinant. A SAGB star is not able to synthesise its own calcium but it may be possible to produce this in the final stages of the process that forms a TZO, when the degenerate electron core of a giant star is tidally disrupted by a neutron star. Hence our calculations indicate that HV2112 is most likely a genuine TZO.
The occurrence of classical Cepheids in binary systems
H.R. Neilson, F.R.N. Schneider, R.G. Izzard, N.R. Evans, N. Langer
Classical Cepheids, like binary stars, are laboratories for stellar evolution and Cepheids in binary systems are especially powerful ones. About one-third of Galactic Cepheids are known to have companions and Cepheids in eclipsing binary systems have recently been discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud. However, there are no known Galactic binary Cepheids with orbital periods less than one year. We compute population synthesis models of binary Cepheids to compare to the observed period and eccentricity distributions of Galactic Cepheids as well as to the number of observed eclipsing binary Cepheids in the LMC. We find that our population synthesis models are consistent with observed binary properties of Cepheids. Furthermore, we show that binary interaction on the red giant branch prevents some red giant stars from becoming classical Cepheids. Such interactions suggest that the binary fraction of Cepheids should be significantly less than that of their main-sequence progenitors, and that almost all binary Cepheids have orbital periods longer than one year. If the Galactic Cepheid spectroscopic binary fraction is about 35%, then the spectroscopic binary fraction of their intermediate mass main sequence progenitors is about 40-45%.

Comparison of the orbital period and eccentricity distributions from our population synthesis model (colours) compared to the Galactic Cepheid binary populations (Evans et al. 2005), denoted with dots.
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