Robert Izzard

Dr Robert Izzard

BA, MA, MNatSci, PhD, 50m swim (slowly)
+44 (0)1483 686602
9am-5pm, often also evenings, late nights, weekends and holidays

Academic and research departments

Astrophysics Research Group.


Areas of specialism


University roles and responsibilities

  • Lecturer

    My qualifications

    Doctor of Philosophy
    Graduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching
    University of Surrey

    Previous roles

    01 July 2010 - 14 February 2015
    W2 Professor of Astrophysics, University of Bonn
    Astronomy and astrophysics
    01 July 2008 - 30 June 2010
    Marie Curie fellow at  l'Université libre de Bruxelles
    Astronomy and astrophysics
    01 July 2005 - 30 June 2008
    NWO fellowship at the University of Utrecht.
    Astronomy and astrophysics
    01 October 2000 - 14 July 2004
    PhD student at the Institute of Astronomy, part of the University of Cambridge.
    Astronomy and astrophysics
    01 July 1999 - 30 June 2000
    Software development, UK Meteorological office


    Research interests

    My publications


    Sana H, de Mink SE, de Koter A, Langer N, Evans CJ, Gieles M, Gosset E, Izzard Robert, Le Bouquin JB, Schneider FR (2012)Binary interaction dominates the evolution of massive stars., In: Science337(6093)pp. 444-446
    The presence of a nearby companion alters the evolution of massive stars in binary systems, leading to phenomena such as stellar mergers, x-ray binaries, and gamma-ray bursts. Unambiguous constraints on the fraction of massive stars affected by binary interaction were lacking. We simultaneously measured all relevant binary characteristics in a sample of Galactic massive O stars and quantified the frequency and nature of binary interactions. More than 70% of all massive stars will exchange mass with a companion, leading to a binary merger in one-third of the cases. These numbers greatly exceed previous estimates and imply that binary interaction dominates the evolution of massive stars, with implications for populations of massive stars and their supernovae.
    Neilson Hilding R., Langer Norbert, Engle Scott G., Guinan Ed, Izzard Robert (2012)CLASSICAL CEPHEIDS REQUIRE ENHANCED MASS LOSS, In: The Astrophysical Journal760(1) The American Astronomical Society
    Measurements of rates of period change of Classical Cepheids probe stellar physics and evolution. Additionally, better understanding of Cepheid structure and evolution provides greater insight into their use as standard candles and tools for measuring the Hubble constant. Our recent study of the period change of the nearest Cepheid, Polaris, suggested that it is undergoing enhanced mass loss when compared to canonical stellar evolution model predictions. In this work, we expand the analysis to rates of period change measured for about 200 Galactic Cepheids and compare them to population synthesis models of Cepheids including convective core overshooting and enhanced mass loss. Rates of period change predicted from stellar evolution models without mass loss do not agree with observed rates, whereas including enhanced mass loss yields predicted rates in better agreement with observations. This is the first evidence that enhanced mass loss as suggested previously for Polaris and δ Cephei must be a ubiquitous property of Classical Cepheids.
    Izzard Robert, Dermine T., Church R. P. (2010)White-dwarf kicks and implications for barium stars, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics523 EDP Sciences
    he formation mechanism of the barium stars is thought to be well understood. Barium-rich material, lost in a stellar wind from a thermally-pulsing asymptotic-giant branch star in a binary system, is accreted by its companion main-sequence star. Now, many millions of years later, the primary is an unseen white dwarf and the secondary has itself evolved into a giant which displays absorption lines of barium in its spectrum and is what we call a barium star. A similar wind-accretion mechanism is also thought to form the low-metallicity CH and carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars. Qualitatively the picture seems clear but quantitatively it is decidedly murky: several key outstanding problems remain which challenge our basic understanding of binary-star physics. Barium stars with orbital periods less than about 4000days should – according to theory – be in circular orbits because of tidal dissipation, yet they are often observed to be eccentric. Only one barium-star period longer than 104days has been published although such stars are predicted to exist in large numbers. In this paper we attempt to shed light on these problems. First, we consider the impact of kicking the white dwarf at its birth, a notion which is supported by independent evidence from studies of globular clusters. Second, we increase the amount of orbital angular momentum loss during wind mass transfer, which shrinks barium-star binaries to the required period range. We conclude with a discussion of possible physical mechanisms and implications of a kick, such as the break up of wide barium-star binaries and the limits imposed on our models by observations
    Comerford T A F, Izzard R G, Booth R A, Rosotti G (2019)Bondi–Hoyle–Lyttleton accretion by binary stars, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society490(4)pp. 5196-5209 Oxford University Press (OUP)
    Binary stars often move through an ambient medium from which they accrete material and angular momentum, as in triple-star systems, star-forming clouds, young globular clusters, and in the centres of galaxies. A binary form of Bondi–Hoyle–Lyttleton accretion results whereby the accretion rate depends on the binary properties: the stellar masses and separation, and the relative wind speed. We present the results of simulations performed with the hydrodynamic code GANDALF, to determine the mass accretion rates over a range of binary separations, inclinations, and mass ratios. When the binary separation is short, the binary system accretes like a single star, while accretion on to stars in wide binaries is barely affected by their companion. We investigate intermediate-separation systems in some detail, finding that as the binary separation is increased, accretion rates smoothly decrease from the rate equal to that of a single star to the rate expected from two isolated stars. The form of this decrease depends on the relative centre-of-mass velocity of the binary and the gas, with faster-moving binaries showing a shallower decrease. Accretion rates vary little with orbital inclination, except when the orbit is side-on and the stars pass through each others’ wakes. The specific angular momentum accretion rate also depends on the inclination but is never sufficient to prevent the binary orbit from contracting. Our results may be applied to accretion on to protostars, pollution of stars in globular and nuclear clusters, and wind mass transfer in multiple stellar systems.
    De Marco Orsola, Izzard Robert (2017)Dawes Review 6: The Impact of Companions on Stellar Evolution, In: Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia34
    Astrophysicists are increasingly taking into account the effects of orbiting companions on stellar evolution. New discoveries have underlined the role of binary star interactions in a range of astrophysical events, including some that were previously interpreted as being due uniquely to single stellar evolution. We review classical binary phenomena, such as type Ia supernovae, and discuss new phenomena, such as intermediate luminosity transients, gravitational wave-producing double black holes, and the interaction between stars and their planets. Finally, we reassess well-known phenomena, such as luminous blue variables, in light of interpretations that include both single and binary stars. At the same time we contextualise the new discoveries within the framework of binary stellar evolution. The last decade has seen a revival in stellar astrophysics as the complexity of stellar observations is increasingly interpreted with an interplay of single and binary scenarios. The next decade, with the advent of massive projects such as the Square Kilometre Array, the James Webb Space Telescope, and increasingly sophisticated computational methods, will see the birth of an expanded framework of stellar evolution that will have repercussions in many other areas of astrophysics such as galactic evolution and nucleosynthesis.
    Zapartas E., de Mink S. E., Izzard Robert, Yoon S.-C., Badenes C., Götberg Y., de Koter A., Neijssel C. J., Renzo M., Schootemeijer A., Shrotriya T. S. (2017)Delay-time distribution of core-collapse supernovae with late events resulting from binary interaction, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics601 EDP Sciences
    Most massive stars, the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae, are in close binary systems and may interact with their companion through mass transfer or merging. We undertake a population synthesis study to compute the delay-time distribution of core-collapse supernovae, that is, the supernova rate versus time following a starburst, taking into account binary interactions. We test the systematic robustness of our results by running various simulations to account for the uncertainties in our standard assumptions. We find that a significant fraction, 15+9-8%, of core-collapse supernovae are “late”, that is, they occur 50–200 Myr after birth, when all massive single stars have already exploded. These late events originate predominantly from binary systems with at least one, or, in most cases, with both stars initially being of intermediate mass (4–8 M⊙). The main evolutionary channels that contribute often involve either the merging of the initially more massive primary star with its companion or the engulfment of the remaining core of the primary by the expanding secondary that has accreted mass at an earlier evolutionary stage. Also, the total number of core-collapse supernovae increases by 14+15-14% because of binarity for the same initial stellar mass. The high rate implies that we should have already observed such late core-collapse supernovae, but have not recognized them as such. We argue that φ Persei is a likely progenitor and that eccentric neutron star – white dwarf systems are likely descendants. Late events can help explain the discrepancy in the delay-time distributions derived from supernova remnants in the Magellanic Clouds and extragalactic type Ia events, lowering the contribution of prompt Ia events. We discuss ways to test these predictions and speculate on the implications for supernova feedback in simulations of galaxy evolution.
    Koter A. de, Filippenko A. V., Izzard Robert, Kelly P. L., Neijssel C. J., Renzo M., Ryder S., Zapartas E., Smith N., Mink S. E. de, Dyk S. D. Van, Fox O. D., Bostroem K. A. (2017)Predicting the Presence of Companions for Stripped-envelope Supernovae: The Case of the Broad-lined Type Ic SN 2002ap, In: The Astrophysical Journal842(2)
    Many young, massive stars are found in close binaries. Using population synthesis simulations we predict the likelihood of a companion star being present when these massive stars end their lives as core-collapse supernovae (SNe). We focus on stripped-envelope SNe, whose progenitors have lost their outer hydrogen and possibly helium layers before explosion. We use these results to interpret new Hubble Space Telescope observations of the site of the broad-lined Type Ic SN 2002ap, 14 years post-explosion. For a subsolar metallicity consistent with SN 2002ap, we expect a main-sequence (MS) companion present in about two thirds of all stripped-envelope SNe and a compact companion (likely a stripped helium star or a white dwarf/neutron star/black hole) in about 5% of cases. About a quarter of progenitors are single at explosion (originating from initially single stars, mergers, or disrupted systems). All of the latter scenarios require a massive progenitor, inconsistent with earlier studies of SN 2002ap. Our new, deeper upper limits exclude the presence of an MS companion star >8–10 , ruling out about 40% of all stripped-envelope SN channels. The most likely scenario for SN 2002ap includes nonconservative binary interaction of a primary star initially . Although unlikely (<1% of the scenarios), we also discuss the possibility of an exotic reverse merger channel for broad-lined Type Ic events. Finally, we explore how our results depend on the metallicity and the model assumptions and discuss how additional searches for companions can constrain the physics that govern the evolution of SN progenitors.
    Boubert D., Fraser M., Evans N. W., Green D. A., Izzard Robert (2017)Binary companions of nearby supernova remnants found with Gaia, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics606
    Aims. We search for runaway former companions of the progenitors of nearby Galactic core-collapse supernova remnants (SNRs) in the Tycho-Gaia astrometric solution (TGAS). Methods. We look for candidates among a sample of ten SNRs with distances ≲2kpc, taking astrometry and G magnitude from TGAS and B,V magnitudes from the AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey (APASS). A simple method of tracking back stars and finding the closest point to the SNR centre is shown to have several failings when ranking candidates. In particular, it neglects our expectation that massive stars preferentially have massive companions. We evolve a grid of binary stars to exploit these covariances in the distribution of runaway star properties in colour – magnitude – ejection velocity space. We construct an analytic model which predicts the properties of a runaway star, in which the model parameters are the location in the grid of progenitor binaries and the properties of the SNR. Using nested sampling we calculate the Bayesian evidence for each candidate to be the runaway and simultaneously constrain the properties of that runaway and of the SNR itself. Results. We identify four likely runaway companions of the Cygnus Loop (G074.0−08.5), HB 21 (G089.0+ 04.7), S147 (G180.0+ 01.7) and the Monoceros Loop (G205.5+ 00.5). HD 37424 has previously been suggested as the companion of S147, however the other three stars are new candidates. The favoured companion of HB 21 is the Be star BD+50 3188 whose emission-line features could be explained by pre-supernova mass transfer from the primary. There is a small probability that the 2M⊙ candidate runaway TYC 2688-1556-1 associated with the Cygnus Loop is a hypervelocity star. If the Monoceros Loop is related to the on-going star formation in the Mon OB2 association, the progenitor of the Monoceros Loop is required to be more massive than 40M⊙ which is in tension with the posterior for our candidate runaway star HD 261393.
    Schneider F.R.N., Ramírez-Agudelo O.H., Tramper F., Bestenlehner J.M., Castro N., Sana H., Evans C.J., Sabín-Sanjulián C., Simón-Díaz S., Langer N., Fossati L., Gräfener G., Crowther P.A., de Mink S.E., de Koter A., Gieles M., Herrero A., Lennon D.J., Izzard R.G., Kalari V., Klessen R.S., Mahy L., Maíz Apellániz J., Markova N., van Loon J.Th., Vink J.S., Walborn N.R. (2018)The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. XXIX. Massive star formation in the local 30 Doradus starburst, In: Astronomy and Astrophysics EDP Sciences
    The 30 Doradus (30 Dor) nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the brightest HII region in the Local Group and a prototype starburst similar to those found in high redshift galaxies. It is thus a stepping stone to understand the complex formation processes of stars in starburst regions across the Universe. Here, we have studied the formation history of massive stars in 30 Dor using masses and ages derived for 452 mainly OB stars from the spectroscopic VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS). We find that stars of all ages and masses are scattered throughout 30 Dor. This is remarkable because it implies that massive stars either moved large distances or formed independently over the whole field of view in relative isolation. We find that both channels contribute to the 30 Dor massive star population. Massive star formation rapidly accelerated about 8 Myr ago, first forming stars in the field before giving birth to the stellar populations in NGC 2060 and NGC 2070. The R136 star cluster in NGC 2070 formed last and, since then, about 1 Myr ago, star formation seems to be diminished with some continuing in the surroundings of R136. Massive stars within a projected distance of 8 pc of R136 are not coeval but show an age range of up to 6 Myr. Our mass distributions are well populated up to 200Mʘ. The inferred IMF is shallower than a Salpeter-like IMF and appears to be the same across 30 Dor. By comparing our sample of stars to stellar models in the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, we find evidence for missing physics in the models above log L=Lʘ = 6 that is likely connected to enhanced wind mass loss for stars approaching the Eddington limit. Our work highlights the key information about the formation, evolution and final fates of massive stars encapsulated in the stellar content of 30 Dor, and sets a new benchmark for theories of massive star formation in giant molecular clouds.
    Boubert D., Erkal D., Evans N. W., Izzard Robert (2017)Hypervelocity runaways from the Large Magellanic Cloud, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society469(2)pp. 2151-2162
    We explore the possibility that the observed population of Galactic hypervelocity stars (HVSs) originate as runaway stars from the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Pairing a binary evolution code with an N-body simulation of the interaction of the LMC with the Milky Way, we predict the spatial distribution and kinematics of an LMC runaway population. We find that runaway stars from the LMC can contribute Galactic HVSs at a rate of 3 × 10−6 yr−1. This is composed of stars at different points of stellar evolution, ranging from the main sequence to those at the tip of the asymptotic giant branch. We find that the known B-type HVSs have kinematics that are consistent with an LMC origin. There is an additional population of hypervelocity white dwarfs whose progenitors were massive runaway stars. Runaways that are even more massive will themselves go supernova, producing a remnant whose velocity will be modulated by a supernova kick. This latter scenario has some exotic consequences, such as pulsars and supernovae far from star-forming regions, and a small rate of microlensing from compact sources around the halo of the LMC.
    Schneider F. R. N., Izzard Robert, Langer N., Mink S. E. de (2015)EVOLUTION OF MASS FUNCTIONS OF COEVAL STARS THROUGH WIND-MASS LOSS AND BINARY INTERACTIONS, In: The Astrophysical Journal805(1) The American Astronomical Society
    Accurate determinations of stellar mass functions and ages of stellar populations are crucial to much of astrophysics. We analyze the evolution of stellar mass functions of coeval main-sequence stars, including all relevant aspects of single and binary star evolution. We show that the slope of the upper part of the mass function in a stellar cluster can be quite different from the slope of the initial mass function. Wind-mass loss from massive stars leads to an accumulation of stars which is visible as a peak at the high-mass end of mass functions, thereby flattening the mass function slope. Mass accretion and mergers in close binary systems create a tail of rejuvenated binary products. These blue straggler stars extend the single star mass function by up to a factor of 2 in mass and can appear up to 10 times younger than their parent stellar cluster. Cluster ages derived from their most massive stars that are close to the turn-off may thus be significantly biased. To overcome such difficulties, we propose the use of the binary tail of stellar mass functions as an unambiguous clock to derive the cluster age because the location of the onset of the binary tail identifies the cluster turn-off mass. It is indicated by a pronounced jump in the mass function of old stellar populations and by the wind-mass loss peak in young stellar populations. We further characterize the binary induced blue straggler population in star clusters in terms of their frequency, binary fraction, and apparent age.
    Izzard Robert, Liu Zheng-Wei, Tauris T. M., Röpke F. K., Moriya T. J., Kruckow M., Stancliffe R. J. (2015)The interaction of core-collapse supernova ejecta with a companion star, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics584 EDP Sciences
    Context. The progenitors of many core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) are expected to be in binary systems. After the SN explosion in a binary, the companion star may suffer from mass stripping and be shock heated as a result of the impact of the SN ejecta. If the binary system is disrupted by the SN explosion, the companion star is ejected as a runaway star, and in some cases as a hypervelocity star. Aims. By performing a series of three-dimensional (3D) hydrodynamical simulations of the collision of SN ejecta with the companion star, we investigate how CCSN explosions affect their binary companion. Methods. We use the BEC stellar evolution code to construct the detailed companion structure at the moment of SN explosion. The impact of the SN blast wave on the companion star is followed by means of 3D smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations using the STELLAR GADGET code. Results. For main-sequence (MS) companion stars, we find that the amount of removed stellar mass, the resulting impact velocity, and the chemical contamination of the companion that results from the impact of the SN ejecta strongly increases with decreasing binary separation and increasing explosion energy. Their relationship can be approximately fitted by power laws, which is consistent with the results obtained from impact simulations of Type Ia SNe. However, we find that the impact velocity is sensitive to the momentum profile of the outer SN ejecta and, in fact, may decrease with increasing ejecta mass, depending on the modeling of the ejecta. Because most companion stars to Type Ib/c CCSNe are in their MS phase at the moment of the explosion, combined with the strongly decaying impact effects with increasing binary separation, we argue that the majority of these SNe lead to inefficient mass stripping and shock heating of the companion star following the impact of the ejecta. Conclusions. Our simulations show that the impact effects of Type Ib/c SN ejecta on the structure of MS companion stars, and thus their long-term post-explosion evolution, is in general not dramatic. We find that at most 10% of their mass is lost and their resulting impact velocities are less than 100 km s-1.
    Pols O. R., Izzard Robert, Stancliffe R. J., Glebbeek E. (2012)The occurrence of nitrogen-enhanced metal-poor stars: implications for the initial mass function in the early Galactic halo, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics547 EDP Sciences
    Most carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars are thought to result from past mass transfer of He-burning material from an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star to a low-mass companion star, which we now observe as a CEMP star. Because AGB stars of intermediate mass efficiently cycle carbon into nitrogen in their envelopes, the same evolution scenario predicts the existence of a population of nitrogen-enhanced metal-poor (NEMP) stars, with [N/Fe] > 1 and [N/C] > 0.5. Such NEMP stars are rare, although their occurrence depends on metallicity: they appear to be more common at [Fe/H] < − 2.8 by about a factor of 10 compared to less metal-poor stars. We analyse the observed sample of metal-poor stars with measurements of both carbon and nitrogen to derive firm constraints on the occurrence of NEMP stars as a function of metallicity. We compare these constraints to binary population synthesis calculations in which we vary the initial distributions of mass, mass ratio and binary orbital periods. We show that the observed paucity of NEMP stars at [Fe/H] > − 2.8 does not allow for large modifications in the initial mass function, as have been suggested in the literature to account for the high frequency of CEMP stars. The situation at lower metallicity is less clear, and we do not currently have stellar models to perform this comparison for [Fe/H] < −2.8. However, unless intermediate-mass AGB stars behave very differently at such low metallicity, the observed NEMP frequency at [Fe/H] < −2.8 appears incompatible with the top-heavy forms of the initial mass function suggested in the literature.
    Abate C., Pols O. R., Stancliffe R. J., Izzard R. G., Karakas A. I., Beers T. C., Lee Y. S. Modelling the observed properties of carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars using binary population synthesis, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics581 EDP Sciences
    The stellar population in the Galactic halo is characterised by a large fraction of carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars. Most CEMP stars have enhanced abundances of s-process elements (CEMP-s stars), and some of these are also enriched in r-process elements (CEMP-s/r stars). In one formation scenario proposed for CEMP stars, the observed carbon excess is explained by invoking wind mass transfer in the past from a more massive thermally-pulsing asymptotic giant branch (AGB) primary star in a binary system.In this work we generate synthetic populations of binary stars at metallicity Z = 0.0001 ([Fe/H] ≈ − 2.3), with the aim of reproducing the observed fraction of CEMP stars in the halo. In addition, we aim to constrain our model of the wind mass-transfer process, in particular the wind-accretion efficiency and angular-momentum loss, and investigate under which conditions our model populations reproduce observed distributions of element abundances.We compare the CEMP fractions determined from our synthetic populations and the abundance distributions of many elements with observations. Several physical parameters of the binary stellar population of the halo are uncertain, in particular the initial mass function, the mass-ratio distribution, the orbital-period distribution, and the binary fraction. We vary the assumptions in our model about these parameters, as well as the wind mass-transfer process, and study the consequent variations of our synthetic CEMP population.The CEMP fractions calculated in our synthetic populations vary between 7% and 17%, a range consistent with the CEMP fractions among very metal-poor stars recently derived from the SDSS/SEGUE data sample. The resulting fractions are more than a factor of three higher than those determined with default assumptions in previous population-synthesis studies, which typically underestimated the observed CEMP fraction. We find that most CEMP stars in our simulations are formed in binary systems with periods longer than 10 000 days. Few CEMP stars have measured orbital periods, but all that do have periods up to a few thousand days. Our results are consistent only if this small subpopulation represents the short-period tail of the underlying period distribution. The results of our comparison between the modelled and observed abundance distributions are significantly different for CEMP-s/r stars and for CEMP-s stars without strong enrichment in r-process elements. For the latter, our simulations qualitatively reproduce the observed distributions of carbon, sodium, and heavy elements such as strontium, barium, europium, and lead. Contrarily, for CEMP-s/r stars our model cannot reproduce the large abundances of neutron-rich elements such as barium, europium, and lead. This result is consistent with previous studies, and suggests that CEMP-s/r stars experienced a different nucleosynthesis history to CEMP-s stars.
    Neilson Hilding R., Schneider Fabian R. N., Izzard Robert, Evans Nancy R., Langer Norbert (2015)The occurrence of classical Cepheids in binary systems, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics574 EDP Sciences
    Classical Cepheids, like binary stars, are laboratories for stellar evolution and Cepheids in binary systems are especially powerful ones. About one-third of Galactic Cepheids are known to have companions and Cepheids in eclipsing binary systems have recently been discovered in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). However, there are no known Galactic binary Cepheids with orbital periods less than one year. We compute population synthesis models of binary Cepheids to compare to the observed period and eccentricity distributions of Galactic Cepheids as well as to the number of observed eclipsing binary Cepheids in the LMC. We find that our population synthesis models are consistent with observed binary properties of Cepheids. Furthermore, we show that binary interaction on the red giant branch prevents some red giant stars from becoming classical Cepheids. Such interactions suggest that the binary fraction of Cepheids should be significantly less than that of their main-sequence progenitors, and that almost all binary Cepheids have orbital periods longer than one year. If the Galactic Cepheid spectroscopic binary fraction is about 35%, then the spectroscopic binary fraction of their intermediate mass main sequence progenitors is about 40−45%.
    Neilson Hilding R., Izzard Robert, Langer Norbert, Ignace Richard (2015)The strange evolution of the Large Magellanic Cloud Cepheid OGLE-LMC-CEP1812, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics581 EDP Sciences
    Classical Cepheids are key probes of both stellar astrophysics and cosmology as standard candles and pulsating variable stars. It is important to understand Cepheids in unprecedented detail in preparation for upcoming Gaia, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and extremely-large telescope observations. Cepheid eclipsing binary stars are ideal tools for achieving this goal, however there are currently only three known systems. One of those systems, OGLE-LMC-CEP1812, raises new questions about the evolution of classical Cepheids because of an apparent age discrepancy between the Cepheid and its red giant companion. We show that the Cepheid component is actually the product of a stellar merger of two main sequence stars that has since evolved across the Hertzsprung gap of the HR diagram. This post-merger product appears younger than the companion, hence the apparent age discrepancy is resolved. We discuss this idea and consequences for understanding Cepheid evolution.
    Maund J. R., Arcavi I., Ergon M., Eldridge J. J., Georgy C., Cenko S. B., Horesh A., Izzard Robert, Stancliffe R. J. (2015)Did the progenitor of SN 2011dh have a binary companion?, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society454(3)pp. 2580-2585 Oxford University Press
    We present late-time Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet (UV) and optical observations of the site of SN 2011dh in the galaxy M51, ∼1164  days post-explosion. At the supernova (SN) location, we observe a point source that is visible at all wavelengths, which is significantly fainter than the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the yellow supergiant progenitor observed prior to explosion. The previously reported photometry of the progenitor is, therefore, completely unaffected by any sources that may persist at the SN location after explosion. In comparison with the previously reported late-time photometric evolution of SN 2011dh, we find that the light curve has plateaued at all wavelengths. The SED of the late-time source is clearly inconsistent with an SED of stellar origin. Although the SED is bright at UV wavelengths, there is no strong evidence that the late-time luminosity originates solely from a stellar source corresponding to the binary companion, although a partial contribution to the observed UV flux from a companion star cannot be ruled out.
    Moriya Takashi J., Liu Zheng-Wei, Izzard Robert (2015)Observable fractions of core-collapse supernova light curves brightened by binary companions, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society450(3)pp. 3264-3269 Oxford University Press
    Many core-collapse supernova progenitors are presumed to be in binary systems. If a star explodes in a binary system, the early supernova light curve can be brightened by the collision of the supernova ejecta with the companion star. The early brightening can be observed when the observer is in the direction of the hole created by the collision. Based on a population synthesis model, we estimate the fractions of core-collapse supernovae in which the light-curve brightening by the collision can be observed. We find that 0.19 per cent of core-collapse supernova light curves can be observed with the collisional brightening. Type Ibc supernova light curves are more likely to be brightened by the collision (0.53 per cent) because of the high fraction of the progenitors being in binary systems and their proximity to the companion stars. Type II and IIb supernova light curves are less affected (∼10−3 and ∼10−2 per cent, respectively). Although the early, slow light-curve declines of some Type IIb and Ibc supernovae are argued to be caused by the collision with the companion star (e.g. SN 2008D), the small expected fraction, as well as the unrealistically small separation required, disfavour the argument. The future transient survey by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is expected to detect ∼10 Type Ibc supernovae with the early collisional brightening per year, and they will be able to provide information on supernova progenitors in binary systems.
    Worley C. Clare, Irwin Mike. J., Tout Christopher A., Żytkow Anna N., Fraser Morgan, Izzard Robert (2016)The proper motion of HV2112: a TŻO candidate in the SMC, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters459(1)pp. L31-L35 Oxford University Press
    The candidate Thorne–Żytkow object (TŻO), HV2112, is becoming a well-studied if enigmatic object. A key point of its candidacy as a TŻO is whether or not it resides in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). HV2112 has detections in a series of photometric catalogues which have resulted in contradictory estimates of its proper motion and, therefore, its membership within the SMC. This letter seeks to resolve the issue of the SMC membership of HV2112 through a reanalysis of extant photometric data. We also demonstrate the difficulties and downfalls inherent in considering a range of catalogue proper motions. We conclude that the proper motion, and associated ancillary radial velocity, positional and photometric properties, are fully consistent with HV2112 being within the SMC and thus it remains a candidate TŻO.
    Abate C., Pols O. R., Karakas A. I., Izzard Robert (2015)Carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars: a window on AGB nucleosynthesis and binary evolution, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics576 EDP Sciences
    AGB stars are responsible for producing a variety of elements, including carbon, nitrogen, and the heavy elements produced in the slow neutron-capture process (s-elements). There are many uncertainties involved in modelling the evolution and nucleosynthesis of AGB stars, and this is especially the case at low metallicity, where most of the stars with high enough masses to enter the AGB have evolved to become white dwarfs and can no longer be observed. The stellar population in the Galactic halo is of low mass (≲0.85 M⊙) and only a few observed stars have evolved beyond the first giant branch. However, we have evidence that low-metallicity AGB stars in binary systems have interacted with their low-mass secondary companions in the past. The aim of this work is to investigate AGB nucleosynthesis at low metallicity by studying the surface abundances of chemically peculiar very metal-poor stars of the halo observed in binary systems. To this end we select a sample of 15 carbon- and s-element-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP-s) halo stars that are found in binary systems with measured orbital periods. With our model of binary evolution and AGB nucleosynthesis, we determine the binary configuration that best reproduces, at the same time, the observed orbital period and surface abundances of each star of the sample. The observed periods provide tight constraints on our model of wind mass transfer in binary stars, while the comparison with the observed abundances tests our model of AGB nucleosynthesis. For most of the stars in our sample, we find that an episode of efficient wind mass transfer, combined with strong angular momentum loss, has occurred in the past. In some cases we find discrepancies between the observed and modelled abundances even if we adopt a fine-tuned set of parameters in our binary evolution model. These discrepancies are probably caused by missing physical ingredients in our models of AGB nucleosynthesis and they provide indications of how to improve our knowledge of the process of nucleosynthesis in AGB stars.
    Kangas T., Portinari L., Mattila S., Fraser M., Kankare E., Izzard Robert, James P., González-Fernández C., Maund J. R., Thompson A. (2017)Core-collapse supernova progenitor constraints using the spatial distributions of massive stars in local galaxies, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics597 EDP Sciences
    We studied the spatial correlations between the Hα emission and different types of massive stars in two local galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and Messier 33. We compared these to correlations derived for core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) in the literature to connect CCSNe of different types with the initial masses of their progenitors and to test the validity of progenitor mass estimates which use the pixel statistics method. We obtained samples of evolved massive stars in both galaxies from catalogues with good spatial coverage and/or completeness, and combined them with coordinates of main-sequence stars in the LMC from the SIMBAD database. We calculated the spatial correlation of stars of different classes and spectral types with Hα emission. We also investigated the effects of distance, noise and positional errors on the pixel statistics method. A higher correlation with Hα emission is found to correspond to a shorter stellar lifespan, and we conclude that the method can be used as an indicator of the ages, and therefore initial masses, of SN progenitors. We find that the spatial distributions of type II-P SNe and red supergiants of appropriate initial mass (≳9 M⊙) are consistent with each other. We also find the distributions of type Ic SNe and WN stars with initial masses ≳20 M⊙ consistent, while supergiants with initial masses around 15 M⊙ are a better match for type IIb and II-L SNe. The type Ib distribution corresponds to the same stellar types as type II-P, which suggests an origin in interacting binaries. On the other hand, we find that luminous blue variable stars show a much stronger correlation with Hα emission than do type IIn SNe.
    Meyer D. M.-A., Mackey J., Langer N., Gvaramadze V. V., Mignone A., Izzard Robert, Kaper L. (2014)Models of the circumstellar medium of evolving, massive runaway stars moving through the Galactic plane, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society444(3)pp. 2754-2775 Oxford University Press
    At least 5 per cent of the massive stars are moving supersonically through the interstellar medium (ISM) and are expected to produce a stellar wind bow shock. We explore how the mass-loss and space velocity of massive runaway stars affect the morphology of their bow shocks. We run two-dimensional axisymmetric hydrodynamical simulations following the evolution of the circumstellar medium of these stars in the Galactic plane from the main sequence to the red supergiant phase. We find that thermal conduction is an important process governing the shape, size and structure of the bow shocks around hot stars, and that they have an optical luminosity mainly produced by forbidden lines, e.g. [O III]. The Hα emission of the bow shocks around hot stars originates from near their contact discontinuity. The Hα emission of bow shocks around cool stars originates from their forward shock, and is too faint to be observed for the bow shocks that we simulate. The emission of optically thin radiation mainly comes from the shocked ISM material. All bow shock models are brighter in the infrared, i.e. the infrared is the most appropriate waveband to search for bow shocks. Our study suggests that the infrared emission comes from near the contact discontinuity for bow shocks of hot stars and from the inner region of shocked wind for bow shocks around cool stars. We predict that, in the Galactic plane, the brightest, i.e. the most easily detectable bow shocks are produced by high-mass stars moving with small space velocities.
    Dermine T., Izzard Robert, Jorissen A., Van Winckel H. Eccentricity-pumping in post-AGB stars with circumbinary discs, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics551 EDP Sciences
    Circumbinary discs are commonly observed around post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) systems and are known to play an important role in their evolution. Several studies have pointed out that a circumbinary disc interacts through resonances with the central binary and leads to angular momentum transfer from the central binary orbit to the disc. This interaction may be responsible for a substantial increase in the binary eccentricity. We investigate whether this disc eccentricity-pumping mechanism can be responsible for the high eccentricities commonly found in post-AGB binary systems.
    Renzo M., Zapartas E., de Mink S. E., Götberg Y., Justham S., Farmer R. J., Izzard R. G., Toonen S., Sana H. (2019)Massive runaway and walkaway stars: A study of the kinematical imprints of the physical processes governing the evolution and explosion of their binary progenitors, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics624 EDP Sciences
    We perform an extensive numerical study of the evolution of massive binary systems to predict the peculiar velocities that stars obtain when their companion collapses and disrupts the system. Our aim is to (i) identify which predictions are robust against model uncertainties and assess their implications, (ii) investigate which physical processes leave a clear imprint and may therefore be constrained observationally, and (iii) provide a suite of publicly available model predictions to allow for the use of kinematic constraints from the Gaia mission. We find that 22+26−8% of all massive binary systems merge prior to the first core-collapse in the system. Of the remainder, 86+11−9% become unbound because of the core-collapse. Remarkably, this rarely produces runaway stars (observationally defined as stars with velocities above 30 km s−1). These are outnumbered by more than an order of magnitude by slower unbound companions, or “walkaway stars”. This is a robust outcome of our simulations and is due to the reversal of the mass ratio prior to the explosion and widening of the orbit, as we show analytically and numerically. For stars more massive than 15 M, we estimate that 10+5−8% are walkaways and only 0.5+1.0−0.4% are runaways, nearly all of which have accreted mass from their companion. Our findings are consistent with earlier studies; however, the low runaway fraction we find is in tension with observed fractions of about 10%. Thus, astrometric data on presently single massive stars can potentially constrain the physics of massive binary evolution. Finally, we show that the high end of the mass distributions of runaway stars is very sensitive to the assumed black hole natal kicks, and we propose this as a potentially stringent test for the explosion mechanism. We also discuss companions remaining bound that can evolve into X-ray and gravitational wave sources.
    Tout Christopher A., Żytkow Anna N., Church Ross P., Lau Herbert H. B., Doherty Carolyn L., Izzard Robert (2014)HV2112, a Thorne–Żytkow object or a super asymptotic giant branch star, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters445(1)pp. L36-L40 Oxford University Press
    The very bright red star HV2112 in the Small Magellanic Cloud could be a massive Thorne–Żytkow object (TŻO), a supergiant-like star with a degenerate neutron core. With a luminosity of over 105 L⊙, it could also be a super asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) star, a star with an oxygen/neon core supported by electron degeneracy and undergoing thermal pulses with third dredge up. Both TŻOs and SAGB stars are expected to be rare. Abundances of heavy elements in HV2112's atmosphere, as observed to date, do not allow us to distinguish between the two possibilities based on the latest models. Molybdenum and rubidium can be enhanced by both the irp-process in a TŻO or by the s-process in SAGB stars. Lithium can be generated by hot bottom burning at the base of the convective envelope in either. HV2112's enhanced calcium could thus be the key determinant. Neither SAGB stars nor TŻOs are known to be able to synthesize their own calcium but it may be possible to produce it in the final stages of the process that forms a TŻO, when the degenerate electron core of a giant star is tidally disrupted by a neutron star. Hence, it is more likely, on a fine balance, that HV2112 is indeed a genuine TŻO.
    Jofré P., Jorissen A., Van Eck S., Izzard Robert, Masseron T., Hawkins K., Gilmore G., Paladini C., Escorza A., Blanco-Cuaresma S., Manick R. (2016)Cannibals in the thick disk: the youngα-rich stars as evolved blue stragglers, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics595 EDP Sciences
    Spectro-seismic measurements of red giants enabled the recent discovery of stars in the thick disk that are more massive than 1.4 M⊙. While it has been claimed that most of these stars are younger than the rest of the typical thick disk stars, we show evidence that they might be products of mass transfer in binary evolution, notably evolved blue stragglers. We took new measurements of the radial velocities in a sample of 26 stars from APOKASC, including 13 “young” stars and 13 “old” stars with similar stellar parameters but with masses below 1.2 M⊙ and found that more of the young starsappear to be in binary systems with respect to the old stars.Furthermore, we show that the young stars do not follow the expected trend of [C/H] ratios versus mass for individual stars. However, with a population synthesis of low-mass stars including binary evolution and mass transfer, we can reproduce the observed [C/N] ratios versus mass. Our study shows how asteroseismology of solar-type red giants provides us with a unique opportunity to study the evolution of field blue stragglers after they have left the main-sequence.
    Yoon S.-C., Gräfener G., Vink J. S., Kozyreva A., Izzard Robert (2012)On the nature and detectability of Type Ib/c supernova progenitors, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics544 EDP Sciences
    Context. The progenitors of many Type II supernovae have been observationally identified but the search for Type Ibc supernova (SN Ibc) progenitors has thus far been unsuccessful, despite the expectation that they are luminous Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars. Aims. We investigate how the evolution of massive helium stars affects their visual appearances, and discuss the implications for the detectability of SN Ibc progenitors. Methods. Evolutionary models of massive helium stars are analysed and their properties compared to Galactic WR stars. Results. Massive WR stars that rapidly lose their helium envelopes through stellar-wind mass-loss end their lives when their effective temperatures – related to their hydrostatic surfaces – exceed about 150 kK. At their pre-supernova stage, their surface properties resemble those of hot Galactic WR stars of WO sub-type. These are visually faint with narrow-band visual magnitudes Mv = −1.5 ···     −2.5, despite their high bolometric luminosities (log L/L⊙ = 5.6···5.7), compared to the bulk of Galactic WR stars (Mv < −4). In contrast, relatively low-mass helium stars that retain a thick helium envelope appear fairly bright in optical bands, depending on the final masses and the history of the envelope expansion during the late evolutionary stages. Conclusions. We conclude that SNe Ibc observations have so far not provided strong constraints on progenitor bolometric luminosities and masses, even with the deepest searches. We also argue that Ic progenitors are more challenging to identify than Ib progenitors in any optical images.
    Halabi Ghina M., Izzard Robert G., Tout Christopher A. (2018)Post-common envelope binary systems experiencing helium-shell driven stable mass transfer, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society480(4)pp. 5176-5183 Oxford University Press (OUP)
    We evolve stellar models to study the common envelope (CE) interaction of an early asymptotic giant branch star of initial mass 5Mʘ with a companion star of mass ranging from 0.1 to 2Mʘ. We model the CE as a fast stripping phase in which the primary experiences rapid mass loss and loses about 80 per cent of its mass. The post-CE remnant is then allowed to thermally readjust during a Roche-lobe overflow (RLOF) phase and the final binary system and its orbital period are investigated. We find that the post-CE RLOF phase is long enough to allow nuclear burning to proceed in the helium shell. By the end of this phase, the donor is stripped of both its hydrogen and helium and ends up as carbon-oxygen white dwarf of mass about 0.8Mʘ. We study the sensitivity of our results to initial conditions of different companion masses and orbital separations at which the stripping phase begins. We find that the companion mass affects the final binary separation and that helium-shell burning causes the star to refill its Roche lobe leading to post-CE RLOF. Our results show that double mass transfer in such a binary interaction is able to strip the helium and hydrogen layers from the donor star without the need for any special conditions or fine tuning of the binary parameters.
    Markova N, Evans C, Bastian N, Beletsky Y, Bestenlehner J, Brott I, Cantiello M, Carraro G, Mink SD, Clark J, Crowther P, Koter AD, Doran E, Dufton P, Dunstall P, Gieles M, Howarth I, Graefener G, Henault-Brunet V, Herrero A, Langer N, Lennon D, Apellaniz JM, Najarro F, Puls J, Sana H, Taylor W, Simon-Diaz S, Smartt S, Stroud V, Loon JV, Vink J, Walborn N, Izzard Robert (2011)The FLAMES Tarantula Survey, In: Astronomy and Astrophysics
    The Tarantula survey is an ESO Large Programme which has obtained multi-epochs spectroscopy of over 800 massive stars in the 30 Dor region in the Large Magelanic Cloud. Here we briefly describe the main drivers of the survey and the observational material derived.
    Schneider F. R. N., Langer N., de Koter A., Brott I., Izzard Robert, Lau H. H. B. Bonnsai: a Bayesian tool for comparing stars with stellar evolution models, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics570 EDP Sciences
    Powerful telescopes equipped with multi-fibre or integral field spectrographs combined with detailed models of stellar atmospheres and automated fitting techniques allow for the analysis of large number of stars. These datasets contain a wealth of information that require new analysis techniques to bridge the gap between observations and stellar evolution models. To that end, we develop BONNSAI (BONN Stellar Astrophysics Interface), a Bayesian statistical method, that is capable of comparing all available observables simultaneously to stellar models while taking observed uncertainties and prior knowledge such as initial mass functions and distributions of stellar rotational velocities into account. BONNSAI can be used to (1) determine probability distributions of fundamental stellar parameters such as initial masses and stellar ages from complex datasets; (2) predict stellar parameters that were not yet observationally determined; and (3) test stellar models to further advance our understanding of stellar evolution. An important aspect of BONNSAI is that it singles out stars that cannot be reproduced by stellar models through χ2 hypothesis tests and posterior predictive checks. BONNSAI can be used with any set of stellar models and currently supports massive main-sequence single star models of Milky Way and Large and Small Magellanic Cloud composition. We apply our new method to mock stars to demonstrate its functionality and capabilities. In a first application, we use BONNSAI to test the stellar models of Brott et al. (2011, A&A, 530, A115) by comparing the stellar ages inferred for the primary and secondary stars of eclipsing Milky Way binaries of which the components range in mass between 4.5 and 28 M⊙. Ages are determined from dynamical masses and radii that are known to better than 3%. We show that the stellar models must include rotation because stellar radii can be increased by several percent via centrifugal forces. We find that the average age difference between the primary and secondary stars of the binaries is 0.9 ± 2.3 Myr (95% CI), i.e. that the stellar models reproduce the Milky Way binaries well. The predicted effective temperatures are in agreement for observed effective temperatures for stars cooler than 25 000 K. In hotter stars, i.e. stars earlier than B1–2V and more massive than about 10 M⊙, we find that the observed effective temperatures are on average hotter by 1.1 ± 0.3 kK (95% CI) and the bolometric luminosities are consequently larger by 0.06 ± 0.02 dex (95% CI) than predicted by the stellar models.
    Castro N., Fossati L., Langer N., Simón-Díaz S., Schneider F. R. N., Izzard Robert (2014)The spectroscopic Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of Galactic massive stars, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics570 EDP Sciences
    The distribution of stars in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram narrates their evolutionary history and directly assesses their properties. Placing stars in this diagram however requires the knowledge of their distances and interstellar extinctions, which are often poorly known for Galactic stars. The spectroscopic Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (sHRD) tells similar evolutionary tales, but is independent of distance and extinction measurements. Based on spectroscopically derived effective temperatures and gravities of almost 600 stars, we derive for the first time the observational distribution of Galactic massive stars in the sHRD. While biases and statistical limitations in the data prevent detailed quantitative conclusions at this time, we see several clear qualitative trends. By comparing the observational sHRD with different state-of-the-art stellar evolutionary predictions, we conclude that convective core overshooting may be mass-dependent and, at high mass (≳15 M⊙), stronger than previously thought. Furthermore, we find evidence for an empirical upper limit in the sHRD for stars with Teff between 10 000 and 32 000 K and, a strikingly large number of objects below this line. This over-density may be due to inflation expanding envelopes in massive main-sequence stars near the Eddington limit.
    Schneider F. R. N., Sana H., Evans C. J., Bestenlehner J. M., Castro N., Fossati L., Gräfener G., Langer N., Ramírez-Agudelo O. H., Sabín-Sanjulián C., Simón-Díaz S., Tramper F., Crowther P. A., de Koter A., de Mink S. E., Hénault-Brunet V., Dufton P. L., Garcia M., Gieles Mark, Herrero A., Izzard Robert, Kalari V., Lennon D. J., Maíz Apellániz J., Markova N., Taylor W. D., Najarro F., Podsiadlowski Ph., Puls J., van Loon J. Th., Vink J. S., Norman C. (2018)An excess of massive stars in the local 30 Doradus starburst, In: Science359(6371)pp. 69-71 American Association for the Advancement of Science
    The 30 Doradus star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud is a nearby analog of large star-formation events in the distant universe. We determined the recent formation history and the initial mass function (IMF) of massive stars in 30 Doradus on the basis of spectroscopic observations of 247 stars more massive than 15 solar masses (Embedded Image). The main episode of massive star formation began about 8 million years (My) ago, and the star-formation rate seems to have declined in the last 1 My. The IMF is densely sampled up to 200 Embedded Image and contains 32 ± 12% more stars above 30 Embedded Image than predicted by a standard Salpeter IMF. In the mass range of 15 to 200 Embedded Image, the IMF power-law exponent is Embedded Image, shallower than the Salpeter value of 2.35.
    Lau H. H. B., Izzard Robert, Schneider F. R. N. (2014)Numerical tests of rotational mixing in massive stars with the new population synthesis code BONNFIRES, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics570 EDP Sciences
    We use our new population synthesis code BONNFIRES to test how surface abundances predicted by rotating stellar models depend on the numerical treatment of rotational mixing, such as spatial resolution, temporal resolution, and computation of mean molecular weight gradients. In stellar evolution codes the process of transporting chemical species and angular momentum is usually approximated as a diffusion process. We find that even with identical numerical prescriptions for calculating the rotational mixing coefficients in the diffusion equation, different timesteps lead to a deviation of the coefficients and hence surface abundances. We find the surface abundances vary by 10–100% between the model sequences with short timestep of 0.001 Myr to model sequences with long timesteps of 0.1–1 Myr. Model sequences with stronger surface nitrogen enrichment also have longer main-sequence lifetimes because more hydrogen is mixed to the burning cores. The deviations in main-sequence lifetimes can be as large as 20%. Mathematically speaking, no numerical scheme can give a perfect solution unless infinitesimally small timesteps are used, which is computationally not practical. However, we find that the surface abundances eventually converge within 10% between modelling sequences with sufficiently small timesteps below 0.1 Myr. The efficiency of rotational mixing depends on the implemented numerical scheme and critically on the computation of the mean molecular weight gradient. A smoothing function for the mean molecular weight gradient results in stronger rotational mixing. When comparing observations with detailed theoretical models made by stellar evolutionary codes or population synthesis codes such as BONNFIRES, deviations of surface abundances because of numerical treatments have to be considered carefully. Calibrations of rotational mixing parameters therefore depend on the chosen discretization schemes. If the discretization scheme or the computational recipe for calculating the mean molecular weight gradient is altered, re-calibration of mixing parameters may be required to fit observations. If we are to properly understand the fundamental physics of rotation in stars, it is crucial that we minimize the uncertainty introduced into stellar evolution models when numerically approximating rotational mixing processes.
    Claeys J. S. W., Pols O. R., Izzard Robert, Vink J., Verbunt F. W. M. (2014)Theoretical uncertainties of the Type Ia supernova rate, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics563 EDP Sciences
    It is thought that Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are explosions of carbon-oxygen white dwarfs (CO WDs). Two main evolutionary channels are proposed for the WD to reach the critical density required for a thermonuclear explosion: the single degenerate (SD) scenario, in which a CO WD accretes from a non-degenerate companion, and the double degenerate (DD) scenario, in which two CO WDs merge. However, it remains difficult to reproduce the observed SN Ia rate with these two scenarios. With a binary population synthesis code we study the main evolutionary channels that lead to SNe Ia and we calculate the SN Ia rates and the associated delay-time distributions. We find that the DD channel is the dominant formation channel for the longest delay times. The SD channel with helium-rich donors is the dominant channel at the shortest delay times. Our standard model rate is a factor of five lower than the observed rate in galaxy clusters. We investigate the influence of ill-constrained aspects of single- and binary-star evolution and uncertain initial binary distributions on the rate of Type Ia SNe. These distributions, as well as uncertainties in both helium star evolution and common envelope evolution, have the greatest influence on our calculated rates. Inefficient common envelope evolution increases the relative number of SD explosions such that for αce = 0.2 they dominate the SN Ia rate. Our highest rate is a factor of three less than the galaxy-cluster SN Ia rate, but compatible with the rate determined in a field-galaxy dominated sample. If we assume unlimited accretion onto WDs, to maximize the number of SD explosions, our rate is compatible with the observed galaxy-cluster rate.
    de Mink S. E., Langer N., Izzard Robert, Sana H., de Koter A. (2013)THE ROTATION RATES OF MASSIVE STARS: THE ROLE OF BINARY INTERACTION THROUGH TIDES, MASS TRANSFER, AND MERGERS, In: The Astrophysical Journal764(2) The American Astronomical Society
    Rotation is thought to be a major factor in the evolution of massive stars—especially at low metallicity—with consequences for their chemical yields, ionizing flux, and final fate. Deriving the birth spin distribution is of high priority given its importance as a constraint on theories of massive star formation and as input for models of stellar populations in the local universe and at high redshift. Recently, it has become clear that the majority of massive stars interact with a binary companion before they die. We investigate how this affects the distribution of rotation rates, through stellar winds, expansion, tides, mass transfer, and mergers. For this purpose, we simulate a massive binary-star population typical for our Galaxy assuming continuous star formation. We find that, because of binary interaction, 20+5 –10% of all massive main-sequence stars have projected rotational velocities in excess of 200 km s–1. We evaluate the effect of uncertain input distributions and physical processes and conclude that the main uncertainties are the mass transfer efficiency and the possible effect of magnetic braking, especially if magnetic fields are generated or amplified during mass accretion and stellar mergers. The fraction of rapid rotators we derive is similar to that observed. If indeed mass transfer and mergers are the main cause for rapid rotation in massive stars, little room remains for rapidly rotating stars that are born single. This implies that spin-down during star formation is even more efficient than previously thought. In addition, this raises questions about the interpretation of the surface abundances of rapidly rotating stars as evidence for rotational mixing. Furthermore, our results allow for the possibility that all early-type Be stars result from binary interactions and suggest that evidence for rotation in explosions, such as long gamma-ray bursts, points to a binary origin.
    Brogaard K, Christiansen S M, Grundahl F, Miglio A, Izzard Robert, Tauris T M, Sandquist E L, VandenBerg D A, Jessen-Hansen J, Arentoft T, Bruntt H, Frandsen S, Orosz J A, Feiden G A, Ryde N, Mathieu R, Geller A, Shetrone M, Stello D, Platais I, Meibom S The blue straggler V106 in NGC 6791: A prototype progenitor of old single giants masquerading as young., In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press
    We determine the properties of the binary star V106 in the old open cluster NGC 6791. We identify the system to be a blue straggler cluster member by using a combination of ground-based and Kepler photometry and multi-epoch spectroscopy. The properties of the primary component are found to be Mp∼1.67M⊙ , more massive than the cluster turn-off, with Rp∼1.91R⊙ and Teff = 7110 ± 100 K. The secondary component is highly oversized and overluminous for its low mass with Ms∼0.182M⊙ , Rs∼0.864R⊙ and Teff = 6875 ± 200 K. We identify this secondary star as a bloated (proto) extremely low-mass helium white dwarf. These properties of V106 suggest that it represents a typical Algol-paradox system and that it evolved through a mass-transfer phase which provides insight into its past evolution. We present a detailed binary stellar evolution model for the formation of V106 using the MESA code and find that the mass-transfer phase only ceased about 40 Myr ago. Due to the short orbital period (P=1.4463 d) another mass-transfer phase is unavoidable once the current primary star evolves towards the red giant phase. We argue that V106 will evolve through a common-envelope phase within the next 100 Myr and merge to become a single over-massive giant. The high mass will make it appear young for its true age, which is revealed by the cluster properties. Therefore, V106 is potentially a prototype progenitor of old field giants masquerading as young.
    Siess L., Izzard Robert, Davis P. J., Deschamps R. (2013)BINSTAR: a new binary stellar evolution code, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics550 EDP Sciences
    We provide a detailed description of a new stellar evolution code, BINSTAR, which has been developed to study interacting binaries. Based on the stellar evolution code STAREVOL, it is specifically designed to study low- and intermediate-mass binaries. We describe the state-of-the-art input physics, which includes treatments of tidal interactions, mass transfer and angular momentum exchange within the system. A generalised Henyey method is used to solve simultaneously the stellar structure equations of each component as well as the separation and eccentricity of the orbit. Test simulations for cases A and B mass transfer are presented and compared with available models. The results of the evolution of Algol systems are in remarkable agreement with the calculations of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) group, thus validating our code. We also computed a large grid of models for various masses (2 ≤ M/M⊙ ≤ 20) and seven metallicities (Z = 0.0001, 0.001, 0.004, 0.008, 0.01, 0.02, 0.03) to provide a useful analytical parameterisation of the tidal torque constant E2, which allows the determination of the circularisation and synchronisation timescales for stars with a radiative envelope and convective core. The evolution of E2 during the main sequence shows noticeable differences compared to available models. In particular, our new calculations indicate that the circularisation timescale is constant during core hydrogen burning. We also show that E2 weakly depends on core overshooting but is substantially increased when the metallicity becomes lower.
    Izzard Robert G, Jermyn Adam S (2018)Post-AGB discs from common-envelope evolution, In: Galaxies6(3)97 MDPI
    Post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) stars with discs are all binaries. Many of these binaries have orbital periods between 100 and 1000 days so cannot have avoided mass transfer between the AGB star and its companion, likely through a common-envelope type interaction. We report on preliminary results of our project to model circumbinary discs around post-AGB stars using our binary population synthesis code binary_c. We combine a simple analytic thin-disc model with binary stellar evolution to estimate the impact of the disc on the binary, and vice versa, fast enough that we can model stellar population and hence explore the rather uncertain parameter space involved with disc formation. We find that, provided the discs form with sufficient mass and angular momentum, and have an inner edge that is relatively close to the binary, they can both prolong the life of their parent post-AGB star and pump the eccentricity of orbits of their inner binaries.
    de Mink S. E., Sana H., Langer N., Izzard Robert, Schneider F. R. N. (2014)THE INCIDENCE OF STELLAR MERGERS AND MASS GAINERS AMONG MASSIVE STARS, In: The Astrophysical Journal782(1) The American Astronomical Society
    Because the majority of massive stars are born as members of close binary systems, populations of massive main-sequence stars contain stellar mergers and products of binary mass transfer. We simulate populations of massive stars accounting for all major binary evolution effects based on the most recent binary parameter statistics and extensively evaluate the effect of model uncertainties. Assuming constant star formation, we find that $8^{+9}_{-4}____%$ of a sample of early-type stars are the products of a merger resulting from a close binary system. In total we find that $30^{+10}_{-15}____%$ of massive main-sequence stars are the products of binary interaction. We show that the commonly adopted approach to minimize the effects of binaries on an observed sample by excluding systems detected as binaries through radial velocity campaigns can be counterproductive. Systems with significant radial velocity variations are mostly pre-interaction systems. Excluding them substantially enhances the relative incidence of mergers and binary products in the non-radial velocity variable sample. This poses a challenge for testing single stellar evolutionary models. It also raises the question of whether certain peculiar classes of stars, such as magnetic O stars, are the result of binary interaction and it emphasizes the need to further study the effect of binarity on the diagnostics that are used to derive the fundamental properties (star-formation history, initial mass function, mass-to-light ratio) of stellar populations nearby and at high redshift.
    Izzard Robert, Jermyn Adam Post-AGB Discs from Common-Envelope Evolution, In: Galaxies6(3) MDPI
    Post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) stars with discs are all binaries. Many of these binaries have orbital periods between 100 and 1000 days so cannot have avoided mass transfer between the AGB star and its companion, likely through a common-envelope type interaction. We report on preliminary results of our project to model circumbinary discs around post-AGB stars using our binary population synthesis code binary_c. We combine a simple analytic thin-disc model with binary stellar evolution to estimate the impact of the disc on the binary, and vice versa, fast enough that we can model stellar population and hence explore the rather uncertain parameter space involved with disc formation. We find that, provided the discs form with sufficient mass and angular momentum, and have an inner edge that is relatively close to the binary, they can both prolong the life of their parent post-AGB star and pump the eccentricity of orbits of their inner binaries
    Kruckow Matthias U., Tauris Thomas M., Langer Norbert, Kramer Michael, Izzard Robert G. (2018)Progenitors of gravitational wave mergers: Binary evolution with the stellar grid-based code ComBinE, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP)
    The first gravitational wave detections of mergers between black holes and neutron stars represent a remarkable new regime of high-energy transient astrophysics. The signals observed with LIGO-Virgo detectors come from mergers of extreme physical objects which are the end products of stellar evolution in close binary systems. To better understand their origin and merger rates, we have performed binary population syntheses at different metallicities using the new grid-based binary population synthesis code ComBinE. Starting from newborn pairs of stars, we follow their evolution including mass loss, mass transfer and accretion, common envelopes and supernova explosions. We apply the binding energies of common envelopes based on dense grids of detailed stellar structure models, make use of improved investigations of the subsequent Case BB Roche-lobe overflow and scale supernova kicks according to the stripping of the exploding stars. We demonstrate that all the double black hole mergers, GW150914, LVT151012, GW151226, GW170104, GW170608 and GW170814, as well as the double neutron star merger GW170817, are accounted for in our models in the appropriate metallicity regime. Our binary interaction parameters are calibrated to match the accurately determined properties of Galactic double neutron star systems, and we discuss their masses and types of supernova origin. Using our default values for the input physics parameters, we find a double neutron star merger rate of about 3.0 Myr-1 for Milky-Way equivalent galaxies. Our upper limit to the merger-rate density of double neutron stars is R≃400 yr-1 Gpc-3 in the local Universe (z=0).
    Schneider F. R. N., Izzard Robert, de Mink S. E., Langer N., Stolte A., de Koter A., Gvaramadze V. V., Hußmann B., Liermann A., Sana H. (2013)AGES OF YOUNG STAR CLUSTERS, MASSIVE BLUE STRAGGLERS, AND THE UPPER MASS LIMIT OF STARS: ANALYZING AGE-DEPENDENT STELLAR MASS FUNCTIONS, In: The Astrophysical Journal780(2) The American Astronomical Society
    Massive stars rapidly change their masses through strong stellar winds and mass transfer in binary systems. The latter aspect is important for populations of massive stars as more than 70% of all O stars are expected to interact with a binary companion during their lifetime. We show that such mass changes leave characteristic signatures in stellar mass functions of young star clusters that can be used to infer their ages and to identify products of binary evolution. We model the observed present-day mass functions of the young Galactic Arches and Quintuplet star clusters using our rapid binary evolution code. We find that the shaping of the mass function by stellar wind mass loss allows us to determine the cluster ages as 3.5 ± 0.7 Myr and 4.8 ± 1.1 Myr, respectively. Exploiting the effects of binary mass exchange on the cluster mass function, we find that the most massive stars in both clusters are rejuvenated products of binary mass transfer, i.e., the massive counterpart of classical blue straggler stars. This resolves the problem of an apparent age spread among the most luminous stars exceeding the expected duration of star formation in these clusters. We perform Monte Carlo simulations to probe stochastic sampling, which support the idea of the most massive stars being rejuvenated binary products. We find that the most massive star is expected to be a binary product after 1.0 ± 0.7 Myr in Arches and after 1.7 ± 1.0 Myr in Quintuplet. Today, the most massive 9 ± 3 stars in Arches and 8 ± 3 in Quintuplet are expected to be such objects. Our findings have strong implications for the stellar upper mass limit and solve the discrepancy between the claimed 150 M ☉ limit and observations of four stars with initial masses of 165-320 M ☉ in R136 and of supernova 2007bi, which is thought to be a pair-instability supernova from an initial 250 M ☉ star. Using the stellar population of R136, we revise the upper mass limit to values in the range 200-500 M ☉.
    Abate C., Pols O. R., Izzard Robert, Mohamed S. S., de Mink S. E. Wind Roche-lobe overflow: Application to carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics552 EDP Sciences
    Carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars are observed as a substantial fraction of the very metal-poor stars in the Galactic halo. Most CEMP stars are also enriched in s-process elements, and these are often found in binary systems. This suggests that the carbon enrichment is due to mass transfer in the past from an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star on to a low-mass companion. Models of binary population synthesis are not able to reproduce the observed fraction of CEMP stars without invoking non-standard nucleosynthesis or a substantial change in the initial mass function. This is interpreted as evidence of missing physical ingredients in the models. Recent hydrodynamical simulations show that efficient wind mass transfer is possible in the case of the slow and dense winds typical of AGB stars through a mechanism called wind Roche-lobe overflow (WRLOF), which lies in between the canonical Bondi-Hoyle-Lyttleton (BHL) accretion and Roche-lobe overflow. WRLOF has an effect on the accretion efficiency of mass transfer and on the angular momentum lost by the binary system. The aim of this work is to understand the overall effect of WRLOF on the population of CEMP stars. To simulate populations of low-metallicity binaries we combined a synthetic nucleosynthesis model with a binary population synthesis code. In this code we implemented the WRLOF mechanism. We used the results of hydrodynamical simulations to model the effect of WRLOF on the accretion efficiency, and we took the effect on the angular momentum loss into account by assuming a simple prescription. The combination of these two effects widens the range of systems that become CEMP stars towards longer initial orbital periods and lower mass secondary stars. As a consequence the number of CEMP stars predicted by our model increases by a factor 1.2−1.8 compared to earlier results that consider the BHL prescription. Moreover, higher enrichments of carbon are produced, and the final orbital period distribution is shifted towards shorter periods.
    De Koter A, Sana H, Evans CJ, Bagnoli T, Bastian N, Bestenlehner JM, Bonanos A, Bressert E, Brott I, Cantiello M, Carraro G, Clark S, Crowther P, De Mink SE, Doran E, Gräfener G, Dufton P, Dunstall P, Garcia M, Hénault-Brunet V, Herrero A, Howarth I, Izzard R, Köhler K, Langer N, Najarro P, Lennon D, Apellániz JM, Markova N, Puls J, Ramirez O, Sabín-Sanjulián C, Simón-Díaz S, Smartt S, Stroud V, Van Loon JT, Taylor W, Vink JS (2011)The O stars in the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey, In: Journal of Physics: Conference Series328(1)
    The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS) has secured mid-resolution spectra of over 300 O-type stars in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. A homogeneous analysis of such a large sample requires automated techniques, an approach that will also be needed for the upcoming analysis of the Gaia surveys of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere supplementing the Gaia measurements. We point out the importance of Gaia for the study of O stars, summarize the O star science case of VFTS and present a test of the automated modeling technique using synthetically generated data. This method employs a genetic algorithm based optimization technique in combination with fastwind model atmospheres. The method is found to be robust and able to recover the main photospheric parameters accurately. Precise wind parameters can be obtained as well, however, as expected, for dwarf stars the rate of acceleration of the ow is poorly constrained.
    Sengupta S., Izzard Robert, Lau H. H. B. (2013)A nova re-accretion model for J-type carbon stars, In: Astronomy & Astrophysics559 EDP Sciences
    The J-type carbon (J)-stars constitute 10–15% of the observed carbon stars in both our Galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). They are characterized by strong absorption bands with low 12C/13C ratios along with other chemical signatures peculiar for typical carbon stars, e.g. a lack of s-process enhancement. Most of the J-stars are dimmer than the N-type carbon stars some of which, by hot-bottom burning, make only in a narrow range of masses. We investigate a binary-star formation channel for J-stars involving re-accretion of carbon-rich nova ejecta on main-sequence companions to low-mass carbon-oxygen white-dwarfs. The subsequent evolution of the companion stars in such systems is studied with a rapid binary evolutionary code to predict chemical signatures of nova pollution in systems which merge into giant single stars. A detailed population synthesis study is performed to estimate the number of these mergers and compare their properties with observed J-stars. Our results predict that such nova polluted mergers evolve with low luminosities as well as low 12C/13C ratios like the majority of observed J-stars (e.g. in the LMC) but cannot account for the observed fraction of J-stars in existing surveys of carbon stars.
    Hall Philip D., Tout Christopher A., Izzard Robert, Keller Denise (2013)Planetary nebulae after common-envelope phases initiated by low-mass red giants, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society435(3)pp. 2048-2059 Oxford University Press
    It is likely that at least some planetary nebulae are composed of matter which was ejected from a binary star system during common-envelope (CE) evolution. For these planetary nebulae the ionizing component is the hot and luminous remnant of a giant which had its envelope ejected by a companion in the process of spiralling-in to its current short-period orbit. A large fraction of CE phases which end with ejection of the envelope are thought to be initiated by low-mass red giants, giants with inert, degenerate helium cores. We discuss the possible end-of-CE structures of such stars and their subsequent evolution to investigate for which structures planetary nebulae are formed. We assume that a planetary nebula forms if the remnant reaches an effective temperature greater than 30 kK within 104 yr of ejecting its envelope. We assume that the composition profile is unchanged during the CE phase so that possible remnant structures are parametrized by the end-of-CE core mass, envelope mass and entropy profile. We find that planetary nebulae are expected in post-CE systems with core masses greater than about 0.3 M⊙ if remnants end the CE phase in thermal equilibrium. We show that whether the remnant undergoes a pre-white dwarf plateau phase depends on the prescribed end-of-CE envelope mass. Thus, observing a young post-CE system would constrain the end-of-CE envelope mass and post-CE evolution.