The Impact of Angular Momentum Loss on the Outcomes of Binary Mass Transfer

Reinhold Willcox, Morgan MacLeod, Ilya Mandel, Ryosuke Hirai

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We use the rapid binary population synthesis code COMPAS to investigate commonly used prescriptions for the determination of mass transfer stability in close binaries and the orbital separations after stable mass transfer. The degree of orbital tightening during nonconservative mass transfer episodes is governed by the poorly constrained angular momentum carried away by the ejected material. Increased orbital tightening drives systems toward unstable mass transfer leading to a common envelope. We find that the fraction of interacting binaries that will undergo only stable mass transfer throughout their lives fluctuates between a few and ∼20% due to uncertainty in the angular momentum loss alone. If mass transfer is significantly nonconservative, stability prescriptions that rely on the assumption of conservative mass transfer underpredict the number of systems which experience unstable mass transfer and stellar mergers. This may substantially impact predictions about the rates of various transients, including luminous red novae, stripped-envelope supernovae, X-ray binaries, and the progenitors of coalescing compact binaries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
Number of pages12
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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