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Title: ELECTROMAGNETIC TRANSIENTS POWERED BY NUCLEAR DECAY IN THE TIDAL TAILS OF COALESCING COMPACT BINARIES

Abstract

We investigate the possibility that long tidal tails formed during compact object mergers may produce optical transients powered by the decay of freshly synthesized r-process material. Precise modeling of the merger dynamics allows for a realistic determination of the thermodynamic conditions in the ejected debris. We combine hydrodynamic and full nuclear network calculations to determine the resultant r-process abundances and the heating of the material by their decays. The subsequent homologous structure is mapped into a radiative transfer code to synthesize emergent model light curves and determine how their properties (variability and color evolution) depend on the mass ratio and orientation of the merging binary. The radiation emanating from the ejected debris, though less spectacular than a typical supernova, should be observable in transient surveys and we estimate the associated detection rates. We find that it is unlikely that photometry alone will be able to distinguish between different binary mass ratios and the nature of the compact objects, emphasizing the need for spectroscopic follow-up of these events. The case for (or against) compact object mergers as the progenitors of short gamma-ray bursts can be tested if such electromagnetic transients are detected (or not) in coincidence with some bursts, although theymore » may be obscured by on-axis afterglows.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
  2. Departments of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94270 (United States)
  3. Instituto de Astronomia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Apdo. Postal 70-264, Cd. Universitaria, Mexico DF 04510 (Mexico)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21562518
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Astrophysical Journal Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 736; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/736/1/L21; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8205
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BINARY STARS; BLACK HOLES; COSMIC GAMMA BURSTS; HYDRODYNAMICS; NUCLEAR DECAY; R PROCESS; RADIANT HEAT TRANSFER; SIMULATION; TRANSIENTS; COSMIC RADIATION; DECAY; ENERGY TRANSFER; EVOLUTION; FLUID MECHANICS; HEAT TRANSFER; IONIZING RADIATIONS; MECHANICS; PRIMARY COSMIC RADIATION; RADIATIONS; STAR EVOLUTION; STARS

Citation Formats

Roberts, L. F., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Kasen, D., and Lee, W. H. ELECTROMAGNETIC TRANSIENTS POWERED BY NUCLEAR DECAY IN THE TIDAL TAILS OF COALESCING COMPACT BINARIES. United States: N. p., 2011. Web. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/736/1/L21.
Roberts, L. F., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Kasen, D., & Lee, W. H. ELECTROMAGNETIC TRANSIENTS POWERED BY NUCLEAR DECAY IN THE TIDAL TAILS OF COALESCING COMPACT BINARIES. United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/736/1/L21.
Roberts, L. F., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Kasen, D., and Lee, W. H. Wed . "ELECTROMAGNETIC TRANSIENTS POWERED BY NUCLEAR DECAY IN THE TIDAL TAILS OF COALESCING COMPACT BINARIES". United States. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/736/1/L21.
@article{osti_21562518,
title = {ELECTROMAGNETIC TRANSIENTS POWERED BY NUCLEAR DECAY IN THE TIDAL TAILS OF COALESCING COMPACT BINARIES},
author = {Roberts, L. F. and Ramirez-Ruiz, E. and Kasen, D. and Lee, W. H.},
abstractNote = {We investigate the possibility that long tidal tails formed during compact object mergers may produce optical transients powered by the decay of freshly synthesized r-process material. Precise modeling of the merger dynamics allows for a realistic determination of the thermodynamic conditions in the ejected debris. We combine hydrodynamic and full nuclear network calculations to determine the resultant r-process abundances and the heating of the material by their decays. The subsequent homologous structure is mapped into a radiative transfer code to synthesize emergent model light curves and determine how their properties (variability and color evolution) depend on the mass ratio and orientation of the merging binary. The radiation emanating from the ejected debris, though less spectacular than a typical supernova, should be observable in transient surveys and we estimate the associated detection rates. We find that it is unlikely that photometry alone will be able to distinguish between different binary mass ratios and the nature of the compact objects, emphasizing the need for spectroscopic follow-up of these events. The case for (or against) compact object mergers as the progenitors of short gamma-ray bursts can be tested if such electromagnetic transients are detected (or not) in coincidence with some bursts, although they may be obscured by on-axis afterglows.},
doi = {10.1088/2041-8205/736/1/L21},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal Letters},
issn = {2041-8205},
number = 1,
volume = 736,
place = {United States},
year = {2011},
month = {7}
}