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The Incidence of Stellar Mergers and Mass Gainers among Massive Stars

de Mink, S. E. and Sana, H. and Langer, N. and Izzard, R. G. and Schneider, F. R. N. (2014) The Incidence of Stellar Mergers and Mass Gainers among Massive Stars. Astrophysical Journal, 782 (1). Art. No. 7. ISSN 0004-637X.

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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.

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Additional Information:© 2014 American Astronomical Society. Received 2013 October 4; accepted 2013 December 11; published 2014 January 20. We acknowledge various members of the VLT-FLAMES massive stars consortium, PI: C. Evans for stimulating discussions. S.d.M. acknowledges support for this work by NASA through an Einstein Fellowship grant, PF3-140105 and a Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF-51270.01-A awarded by STScI, operated by AURA, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Einstein Fellowship ProgramPF3-140105
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF-51270.01-A
NASANAS 5-26555
Subject Keywords: binaries: close; Galaxy: stellar content; stars: early-type; stars: massive
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140417-095425292
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Official Citation:The Incidence of Stellar Mergers and Mass Gainers among Massive Stars S. E. de Mink et al. 2014 ApJ 782 7
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:45003
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:17 Apr 2014 17:33
Last Modified:27 Jan 2016 18:47

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