A Caltech Library Service

Tidal friction in early-type stars

Goldreich, Peter and Nicholson, Philip D. (1989) Tidal friction in early-type stars. Astrophysical Journal, 342 (2). pp. 1079-1084. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/167665.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The tidal torque on an early-type star is concentrated near the boundary between the convective core and radiative envelope and a train of gravity waves is excited there. The angular momentum which the torque removes from the fluid is transported outward by the gravity waves, which carry negative angular momentum. Before the surface layers are despun to synchronous rotation, the gravity waves propagate to just below the photosphere where they suffer radiative damping and are partially reflected. It is here that the negative angular momentum is deposited and the primary tidal despinning takes place. The surface layers cannot be spun down below synchronous rotation because as a train of gravity waves approaches a corotation resonance its group velocity and wavelength tend to zero, its amplitude diverges, and it is completely absorbed. Thus, tidal despinning to synchronous rotation proceeds from the outside toward the inside of the star. Our picture provides a neat explanation for the otherwise puzzling discovery by Giuricin, Mardirossian, and Mezzetti that Zahn's theory for tidal evolution in early-type close binaries seems to be compatible with the observed rates of orbit circularization while significantly underestimating the observed rates of spin synchronization.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Nicholson, Philip D.0000-0003-2275-4463
Additional Information:© 1989 American Astronomical Society. Received 1988 September 8; accepted 1988 December 29. This research was supported by NSF grant AST 86-1299. P. G. is grateful to J. N. Bahcall for his hospitality at the Institute for Advanced Study, where this investigation was initiated.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFAST 86-1299
Subject Keywords:stars: binaries, stars: early-type, stars: rotation, wave motions
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130313-105241949
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Tidal friction in early-type stars Goldreich, P. & Nicholson, P. D. Astrophysical Journal, Part 1, vol. 342, July 15, 1989, p. 1079-1084.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:37494
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:13 Mar 2013 18:41
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:29

Repository Staff Only: item control page