Irradiation-driven mass transfer in low-mass X-ray binaries

Article metrics

Abstract

IN a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB), mass accreted onto a neutron star from a larger companion generates a flux of X-rays which irradiate the companion. Previous studies of irradiated stars have been restricted to the effects on their outermost layers1–5, or did not address conditions found in interacting binaries6. Here I show that, under the radiative flux typical of a LMXB, the companion will expand towards a new state of thermal equilibrium, and that this expansion provides a new mechanism to drive mass transfer onto the neutron star. The evolution of LMXBs can be drastically altered in this way. In particular, this mechanism may introduce a new evolutionary phase during which the orbital period increases, leading to larger orbital periods during and at the end of mass transfer, and (if the companion is a subgiant) shortening the duration of the LMXB phase. These modifications may help to resolve a number of observational puzzles concerning the numbers and properties of LMXBs and related objects.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Ruderman, M., Shaham, J., Tavani, M. & Eichler, D. Astrophys. J. 343, 292–312 (1989).

  2. 2

    Arons, J. Astrophys. J. 184, 539–550 (1973).

  3. 3

    Bath, G. T. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 171, 311–328 (1975).

  4. 4

    Osaki, Y. Astr. Astrophys. 144, 369–380 (1985).

  5. 5

    Hameury, J. M., King, A. R. & Lasota, J. P. Astr. Astrophys. 162, 71–79 (1986).

  6. 6

    Tout, C. A., Eggleton, P. P., Fabian, A. C. & Pringle, J. E. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 238, 427–438 (1989).

  7. 7

    Rappaport, S., Verbunt, F. & Joss, P. C. Astrophys. J. 275, 713–731 (1983).

  8. 8

    Verbunt, F. & Zwaan, C. Astr. Astrophys. 100, L7–L9 (1981).

  9. 9

    van der Klis, M. & Bonnet-Bidaud, J. M. Astr. Astrophys. 214, 203–208 (1989).

  10. 10

    Hellier, C., Mason, K. O., Smale, A. P. & Kilkenny, D. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 244, 39p–43p (1990).

  11. 11

    Naylor, T., Charles, P. A., Drew, J. E. & Hassall, B. J. Mon. Not. R. astr. Soc. 233, 285–304 (1988).

  12. 12

    Long, K. S. & Van Speybroeck, L. P. in Accretion-Driven Stellar X-Ray Sources (ed. Lewin, W. H. G. & Van den Heuvel, E. P. J.) 117–146 (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

  13. 13

    Ruderman, M., Shaham, J. & Tavani, M. Astrophys. J. 336, 507–518 (1989).

  14. 14

    Djorgovski, S. & Evans, C. R. Astrophys. J. 335, L61–L65 (1988).

  15. 15

    Webbink, R. F., Rappaport, S. & Savonije, G. J. Astrophys. J. 270, 678–693 (1983).

  16. 16

    Ray, A. & Kluźniak, W. Nature 344, 415–417 (1990).

  17. 17

    Patterson, J. Astrophys. J. Suppl. 54, 443–493 (1984).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Podsiadlowski, P. Irradiation-driven mass transfer in low-mass X-ray binaries. Nature 350, 136–138 (1991) doi:10.1038/350136a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.