Monte Carlo simulations of post-common-envelope white dwarf + main sequence binaries: The effects of including recombination energy

TitleMonte Carlo simulations of post-common-envelope white dwarf + main sequence binaries: The effects of including recombination energy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsZorotovic, M, Schreiber, M R, García-Berro, E, Camacho, J, Torres, S, Rebassa-Mansergas, A, Gänsicke, B T
Keywordsbinaries: close, stars: evolution, white dwarfs

{Context. Detached white dwarf + main sequence (WD+MS) post-common-envelope binaries (PCEBs) are perhaps the most suitable objects for testing predictions of close-compact binary-star evolution theories, in particular, common-envelope (CE) evolution. Consequently, the population of WD+MS PCEBs has been simulated by several authors in the past and the predictions have been compared with the observations. However, most of those theoretical predictions did not take into account the possible contributions to the envelope ejection from additional sources of energy (mostly recombination energy) stored in the envelope. Aims: Here we update existing binary population models of WD+MS PCEBs by assuming that in addition to a fraction {$\alpha$}$_{CE}$ of the orbital energy, a fraction {$\alpha$}$_{rec}$ of the recombination energy available within the envelope contributes to ejecting the envelope. Methods: We performed Monte Carlo simulations of 10⁷ MS+MS binaries for 9 different combinations of {$\alpha$}$_{CE}$ and {$\alpha$}$_{rec}$ using standard assumptions for the initial primary mass function, binary separations, and initial-mass-ratio distribution and evolved these systems using the publicly available binary star evolution (BSE) code. Results: Including a fraction of the recombination energy leads to a clear prediction of a large number of long orbital period ({\gsim}10 days) systems mostly containing high-mass WDs. The fraction of systems with He-core WD primaries (M$_{WD}$ łsim} 0.5 M$_{⊙}$) increases with the CE efficiency and the existence of very low-mass He WDs (łsim}0.3 M$_{⊙}$) is only predicted for high values of the CE efficiency, i.e. {$\alpha$}$_{CE}$ {\gsim} 0.5. All models predict on average longer orbital periods for PCEBs containing C/O-core WDs (M$_{WD}$ {\gsim} 0.5 M$_{⊙}$) than for PCEBs containing He WDs. This effect increases with increasing values of both efficiencies, i.e., {$\alpha$}$_{CE}$ and {$\alpha$}$_{rec}$. Longer periods after the CE phase are also predicted for systems containing more massive secondary stars. The initial-mass-ratio distribution affects the distribution of orbital periods, especially the distribution of secondary star masses. Conclusions: Our simulations, in combination with a large and homogeneous observational sample, can provide constraints on the values of {$\alpha$}$_{CE}$ and {$\alpha$}$_{rec}$, as well as on the initial-mass-ratio distribution for MS+MS binary stars. }