The Curious Case of 4U 1820-30: On the Resonant Trapping and Tidal Dissipation Rate of the White Dwarf Secondary

Snezana Prodan

University of Toronto

It has been suggested that the 170 day period in the light curve of the low mass X-ray binary 4U 1820-30 arises from the presence of a third body with a large inclination to the binary orbit. We show that this long period motion arises if the system is librating around the stable fixed point in a Kozai resonance. We demonstrate that mass transfer drives the system toward this fixed point, and calculate, both analytically and via numerical integrations, that the period of libration is of order 170 days when the mutual inclination is near the Kozai critical value, which could indicate that the system might had suffered through Kozai migration. The non-zero eccentricity of the binary, combined with tidal dissipation, implies that the rate of change of the binary period would be slower than, or even of opposite sign to, that implied by standard mass transfer models. If the 170 day period results from libration, then, contrary to appearances, the orbital period of the inner binary is increasing with time; in that case, (e/0.009)^2Q/k_2 > 2.5x10^9, where k_2=0.01 is the tidal Love number and e=0.009 is the fiducial eccentricity of the inner binary. It appears unlikely that the observed negative period derivative results from the smaller than expected (but positive) value of period derivative combined with the previously suggested acceleration of the system in the gravitational field of the host globular cluster NGC 6624.

Date: Lundi, le 24 octobre 2011
Heure: 15:00
Lieu: Université McGill
  Ernest Rutherford Physics Building, R.E. Bell Conference Room (room 103)
Contact: Robert Rutledge