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Researchers Investigate Viability of Optically Thick Wind Model
Author: | Update time:2022-08-03           | Print | Close | Text Size: A A A

Recently, Ph.D. candidate CUI Yingzhen and Prof. MENG Xiangcun, from Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, investigated the viability of the optically thick wind (OTW) model in accreting white dwarfs (WDs). They found that the accreted material can effectively prevent the occurrence of OTW on the surface of WDs, which may change the knowledge of the single degenerate model of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). This result was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Accreting WD systems, which usually consist of a WD and a non-degenerate companion, are important for studying binary physics and accretion physics. WDs can increase their masses by accretion, and if their masses eventually reach the Chandrasekhar mass limit, an SN Ia explosion can occur. Therefore, the formation and evolution of SNe Ia can be well constrained by the study of such systems.

During the evolution of an accreting WD to an SN Ia, if the accretion rate exceeds the maximum burning rate of the WD (the critical accretion rate), the excess material will expand to form a common envelope and no SN Ia will occur, thus the birth rate of SNe Ia predicted by the accreting WD model is too low compared with the observed value. To overcome this difficulty, an OTW model has been proposed, in which an OTW is generated at the surface of the WD to blow away the excess material when the mass transfer rate exceeds the critical accretion rate. This OTW model is therefore considered to be the physical basis for the accreting WDs to explode as SNe Ia by accretion.

However, observations of SN Ia remnants in the last decade have not revealed evidence of the interaction between the OTW and the circumstance material, nor have they found the counterpart predicted by the OTW model. This implies that no OTW may have occurred in the progenitor of SNe Ia. For this reason, the researchers have reconsidered the condition for the occurrence of OTW and suggested that the interaction between the accreted material and the wind could prevent the formation of OTW.

It is found that the viability of OTW strongly depends on the accretion rate. In the case that the accretion rate exceeds the critical accretion rate, the accreted material can effectively prevent the occurrence of OTW. This result provides an explanation for the contradiction between models and observations of the OTW model, and also raises new questions related to the progenitor of SNe Ia.

CUI Yingzhen
Yunnan Observatories, CAS

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