Binary star interactions affect the evolution of massive stars and the early universe

Massive stars, which are over ten times the mass of the sun, play a crucial role in the universe’s evolution and the emergence of life. They emit powerful ultraviolet radiation, ionize interstellar gas, and generate the elements necessary for life through dramatic supernova explosions.

However, scientific observations and simulations indicate that massive stars tend to exist not as solitary entities but rather as binary systems. Moreover, these binary stars often interact with each other during their lifetimes, resulting in interactive binary systems. The interaction mechanism of binary stars is essential in explaining various high-energy astronomical phenomena like black hole collisions and supernova explosions.

A team of international researchers, led by Sung-Han Tsai and Ke-Jung Chen from the Institute of Astronomy at Academia Sinica, has made groundbreaking discoveries in the theory of binary star evolution. Their research findings have been published in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Using advanced stellar evolution models, the team investigated the connection between the mass and metallicity of massive binary stars. They found that higher metallicity increases the likelihood of interaction between the two stars. These interactions profoundly alter the evolutionary paths of the original stars and impact their final supernova explosions and element production processes. Consequently, the outcomes exhibited by interacting binary stars differ significantly from those of isolated single stars.

Furthermore, the interactions between binary stars amplify the emission of high-energy radiation, which has a significant influence on the early universe’s evolution.

“This study represents the first exploration of the evolution of interacting massive binary stars and their radiation effects in the early universe. It highlights the importance of binary star interactions in stellar evolution. These findings necessitate a reevaluation of our understanding of massive stars, supernova explosions, and their corresponding effects on interstellar feedback, greatly impacting the field of astrophysics,” stated Ke-Jung Chen.

“Through a comparative analysis of six hundred evolutionary models of binary stars and their corresponding single stars, we have identified distinct differences in their ionizing radiation capabilities. Additionally, the interaction between binary stars results in a noteworthy increase in the production of high-energy photons within a relatively short period. These findings have significant implications for current cosmological models,” added lead author Sung-Han Tsai.

Source: ASIAA Science Highlights

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