SCATTER: A New Common Envelope Formalism

Rosanne Di Stefano, Matthias U. Kruckow, Yan Gao, Patrick G. Neunteufel, Chiaki Kobayashi

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One of the most mysterious astrophysical states is the common envelope (CE) phase of binary evolution, in which two stars are enshrouded by the envelope shed by one of them. Interactions between the stars and the envelope shrinks the orbit. The CE can lead to mergers or to a subsequent phase of interactions. Mergers may involve any combination of two compact objects and/or stars. Some involving white dwarfs may produce Type Ia supernovae, while merging neutron stars may yield gamma-ray bursts, and merging compact objects of all kinds produce gravitational radiation. Since CEs can arise from a variety of different initial conditions, and due to the complexity of the processes involved, it is difficult to predict their end states. When many systems are being considered, as in population synthesis calculations, conservation principles are generally employed. Here we use angular momentum in a new way to derive a simple expression for the final orbital separation. This method provides advantages for the study of binaries and is particularly well suited to higher-order multiples, now considered to be important in the genesis of potential mergers. Here we focus on CEs in binaries, and the follow-up paper extends our formalism to multiple-star systems within which a CE occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2023


  • 340
  • Stars and Stellar Physics


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