Spinning-up the envelope before entering a common envelope phase

Ealeal Bear, Noam Soker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We calculate the orbital evolution of binary systems where the primary star is an evolved red giant branch (RGB) star, while the secondary star is a low-mass main sequence (MS) star or a brown dwarf. The evolution starts with a tidal interaction that causes the secondary to spiral-in. Than either a common envelope (CE) is formed in a very short time, or alternatively the system reaches synchronization and the spiraling-in process substantially slows down. Some of the latter systems later enter a CE phase. We find that for a large range of system parameters, binary systems reach stable synchronized orbits before the onset of a CE phase. Such stable synchronized orbits allow the RGB star to lose mass prior to the onset of the CE phase. Even after the secondary enters the giant envelope, the rotational velocity is high enough to cause an enhanced mass-loss rate. Our results imply that it is crucial to include the pre-CE evolution when studying the outcome of the CE phase. We find that many more systems survive the CE phase than would be the case if these preceding spin-up and mass-loss phases had not been taken into account. Although we have made the calculations for RGB stars, the results have implications for other evolved stars that interact with close companions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
JournalNew Astronomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries
  • Close
  • Including multiple
  • Stars

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