A nova re-accretion model for J-type carbon stars

The J-type carbon (J)-stars constitute 10-15% of the observed carbon stars in both our Galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). They are characterized by strong 13C absorption bands with low 12C/13C ratios along with other chemical signatures peculiar for typical carbon stars, e.g. a lack of s-process enhancement. Most of the J-stars are dimmer than the N-type carbon stars some of which, by hot-bottom burning, make 13C only in a narrow range of masses. We investigate a binary-star formation channel for J-stars involving re-accretion of carbon-rich nova ejecta on main-sequence companions to low-mass carbon-oxygen white-dwarfs. The subsequent evolution of the companion stars in such systems is studied with a rapid binary evolutionary code to predict chemical signatures of nova pollution in systems which merge into giant single stars. A detailed population synthesis study is performed to estimate the number of these mergers and compare their properties with observed J-stars. Our results predict that such nova polluted mergers evolve with low luminosities as well as low 12C/13C ratios like the majority of observed J-stars (e.g. in the LMC) but cannot account for the observed fraction of J-stars in existing surveys of carbon stars.

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Date added: Tue, 8 Oct 13