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The eccentricities of the barium stars

Authors

  • Amanda I. Karakas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia
    2. Institute of Astronomy, The Observatories, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA
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  • Christopher A. Tout,

    1. Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia
    2. Institute of Astronomy, The Observatories, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA
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  • John C. Lattanzio

    1. Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia
    2. Institute of Astronomy, The Observatories, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA
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★ E-mail: amanda@bob.maths.monash.edu.au

Abstract

We investigate the eccentricities of barium (Ba ii) stars formed via a stellar wind accretion model. We carry out a series of Monte Carlo simulations using a rapid binary evolution algorithm, which incorporates full tidal evolution, mass loss and accretion, and nucleosynthesis and dredge-up on the thermally pulsing asymptotic giant branch. We follow the enhancement of barium in the envelope of the accreting main-sequence companion and dilution into its convective envelope once the star ascends the giant branch.

The observed eccentricities of Ba ii stars are significantly smaller than those of an equivalent set of normal red giants but are nevertheless non-zero. We show that such a distribution of eccentricities is consistent with a wind accretion model for Ba ii star production with weak viscous tidal dissipation in the convective envelopes of giant stars. We successfully model the distribution of orbital periods and the number of observed Ba ii stars. The actual distribution of eccentricities is quite sensitive to the strength of the tides, so that we are able to confirm that this strength is close to, but less than, what is expected theoretically and found with alternative observational tests. Two systems – one very short-period but eccentric, and one long-period and highly eccentric – still lie outside the envelope of our models, and so require a more exotic formation mechanism. All our models, even those which were a good fit to the observed distributions, overproduced the number of high-period barium stars, a problem that could not be solved by some combination of the three parameters: tidal strength, tidal enhancement and wind accretion efficiency.

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