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Published May 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

Observable tertiary tides in TIC242132789


Many stars live in hierarchical triple systems, but the physics of such systems are still poorly understood. One understudied physical aspect of these systems is tertiary tides, wherein the tidal deformation of a tertiary in a hierarchical triple drains energy from the inner binary, causing the inner binary's orbital separation to decrease. This tidal process is difficult to observe directly, since such an observation requires a very compact hierarchical triple, the tertiary of which must be almost large enough to fill its Roche lobe at the epoch of observation. Concurrently, the recently discovered stellar system TIC242132789 is the fourth most compact observed hierarchical triple, and the most compact in which the tertiary is a giant. In this paper, we demonstrate that TIC242132789 provides a rare opportunity to place constraints on the model parameters for tertiary tides, and can even be a rare opportunity to directly observe tertiary-tides-induced orbital shrinkage of the inner binary. We calculate our expectations of how fast the inner orbit will shrink, and demonstrate that our estimates of this rate of shrinkage should be observable using current techniques. We conclude with a call for relevant observations of this system to commence.

Additional Information

© 2023 The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. YG is a Royal Society K. C. Wong International Fellow, and as such acknowledges funding from the Royal Society and the K. C. Wong Education Foundation. ST acknowledges support from the Netherlands Research Council NWO (VENI 639.041.645 and VIDI 203.061 grants). MJG acknowledges funding by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's FP7 Programme, grant no.833031 (PI: Dan Maoz). DATA AVAILABILITY. The data underlying this article will be shared on reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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August 22, 2023
October 20, 2023