Accelerated Tidal Circularization Via Resonance Locking in KIC 8164262 [SSA]

Tidal dissipation in binary star and planetary systems is poorly understood. Fortunately, eccentric binaries known as heartbeat stars often exhibit tidally excited oscillations, providing observable diagnostics of tidal circularization mechanisms and timescales. We apply tidal theories to observations of the heartbeat star KIC 8164262, which contains an F-type primary in a very eccentric orbit that exhibits a prominent tidally excited oscillation. We demonstrate that the prominent oscillation is unlikely to result from a chance resonance between tidal forcing and a stellar oscillation mode. However, the oscillation has a frequency and amplitude consistent with the prediction of resonance locking, a mechanism in which coupled stellar and orbital evolution maintain a stable resonance between tidal forcing and a stellar oscillation mode. The resonantly excited mode produces efficient tidal dissipation (corresponding to an effective tidal quality factor $Q \sim 5 \times 10^4$), such that tidal orbital decay/circularization proceeds on a stellar evolution time scale.

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J. Fuller, K. Hambleton, A. Shporer, et. al.
Mon, 19 Jun 17

Comments: Submitted to MNRAS Letters. Comments welcome. For an interactive 3D model of the system, go to this http URL