Three-dimensional simulations of the interaction between the nova ejecta, accretion disk, and companion star

Joana Figueira, Jordi José, Enrique García-Berro, Simon W. Campbell, Domingo García-Senz, Shazrene Mohamed

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Context. Classical novae are thermonuclear explosions hosted by accreting white dwarfs in stellar binary systems. Material piles up on top of the white dwarf star under mildly degenerate conditions, driving a thermonuclear runaway. The energy released by the suite of nuclear processes operating at the envelope, mostly proton-capture reactions and β+-decays, heats the material up to peak temperatures ranging from 100 to 400 MK. In these events, about 10-3-10-7 M, enriched in CNO and, sometimes, other intermediate-mass elements (e.g., Ne, Na, Mg, and Al) are ejected into the interstellar medium. 

Aims. To date, most of the efforts undertaken in the modeling of classical nova outbursts have focused on the early stages of the explosion and ejection, ignoring the interaction of the ejecta, first with the accretion disk orbiting the white dwarf and ultimately with the secondary star. 

Methods. A suite of 3D, smoothed-particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of the interaction between the nova ejecta, accretion disk, and stellar companion were performed to fill this gap; these simulations were aimed at testing the influence of the model parameters - that is, the mass and velocity of the ejecta, mass and the geometry of the accretion disk - on the dynamical and chemical properties of the system. 

Results. We discuss the conditions that lead to the disruption of the accretion disk and to mass loss from the binary system. In addition, we discuss the likelihood of chemical contamination of the stellar secondary induced by the impact with the nova ejecta and its potential effect on the next nova cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA8
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • abundances
  • cataclysmic variables
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Novae
  • Nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis

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