Astronomy on Tap

I’m in Santa Cruz, CA giving a public talk on stellar-mass black holes!

Conference Photo

Hubble Fellows Symposium

I’m in Baltimore, MD at the Space Telescope Science Institute for the 2018 Hubble Fellows Symposium. I’m giving a talk entitled The Importance of Mixing in White Dwarfs Evolving towards Explosion.

Conference Photo

Hot Subdwarfs Formed from the Merger of Two He White Dwarfs

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 476, issue 4, pp. 5303-5311

Josiah Schwab

We perform stellar evolution calculations of the remnant of the merger of two He white dwarfs (WDs). Our initial conditions are taken from hydrodynamic simulations of double WD mergers and the viscous disc phase that follows. We evolve these objects from shortly after the merger into their core He-burning phase, when they appear as hot subdwarf stars. We use our models to quantify the amount of H that survives the merger, finding that it is difficult for $\gtrsim 10^{-4}\;{\rm M}_\odot$ of H to survive, with even less being concentrated in the surface layers of the object. We also study the rotational evolution of these merger remnants. We find that mass loss over the $\sim 10^4\;\rm yr$ following the merger can significantly reduce the angular momentum of these objects. As hot subdwarfs, our models have moderate surface rotation velocities of $30-100\; {\rm km\,s^{-1}}$. The properties of our models are not representative of many apparently-isolated hot subdwarfs, suggesting that those objects may form via other channels or that our modelling is incomplete. However, a sub-population of hot subdwarfs are moderate-to-rapid rotators and/or have He-rich atmospheres. Our models help to connect the observed properties of these objects to their progenitor systems.

Observational Signatures of Type Ia Supernova Progenitors III

I’m in Leiden, Netherlands for the Lorentz Center workshow Observational Signatures of Type Ia Supernova Progenitors III. I’m giving a review talk on Accretion-Induced Collapse.

Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA): Convective Boundaries, Element Diffusion, and Massive Star Explosions

The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Volume 234, Issue 2, article id. 34, 50 pp.

Bill Paxton, Josiah Schwab, Evan B. Bauer, Lars Bildsten, Sergei Blinnikov, Paul Duffell, R. Farmer, Jared A. Goldberg, Pablo Marchant, Elena Sorokina, Anne Thoul, Richard H. D. Townsend, F. X. Timmes

We update the capabilities of the software instrument Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) and enhance its ease of use and availability. Our new approach to locating convective boundaries is consistent with the physics of convection, and yields reliable values of the convective core mass during both hydrogen and helium burning phases. Stars with $M<8\,{\rm M_\odot}$ become white dwarfs and cool to the point where the electrons are degenerate and the ions are strongly coupled, a realm now available to study with MESA due to improved treatments of element diffusion, latent heat release, and blending of equations of state. Studies of the final fates of massive stars are extended in MESA by our addition of an approximate Riemann solver that captures shocks and conserves energy to high accuracy during dynamic epochs. We also introduce a 1D capability for modeling the effects of Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities that, in combination with the coupling to a public version of the STELLA radiation transfer instrument, creates new avenues for exploring Type II supernovae properties. These capabilities are exhibited with exploratory models of pair-instability supernova, pulsational pair-instability supernova, and the formation of stellar mass black holes. The applicability of MESA is now widened by the capability of importing multi-dimensional hydrodynamic models into MESA. We close by introducing software modules for handling floating point exceptions and stellar model optimization, and four new software tools -- MESAWeb, MESA-Docker, pyMESA, and -- to enhance MESA's education and research impact.