Research Division Seminar
Barium stars as tracers of binary evolution in the Gaia era

Dr. Ana Escorza Santos


About half of the stars in our Galaxy are born in binary systems meaning that their evolution might be affected by the presence of a companion. Many aspects of binary interaction are still unknown so understanding the products that result from interacting systems is crucial to unravel the physical mechanisms involved. A prototypical example of such post-interaction binary systems in the low- and intermediate-mass regime are Barium (Ba) stars. Ba stars are main-sequence or giant stars which show an enhancement of chemical elements that should not yet be overabundant at these evolutionary stages. Currently, it is widely accepted that these chemicals were transferred from a more evolved companion during a phase of mass transfer and that this companion evolved into a cool white dwarf. Understanding the orbital properties of these systems, as well as the stellar properties of the Ba star and its polluter, is the key to the system’s interaction history.

In the last years, the synergy between Gaia data, of unprecedented quality, high-resolution spectroscopy, long-term radial-velocity monitoring programmes, and state-of-the-art stellar and binary evolution models has contributed to a better understanding of the properties of Ba stars and provided new observational constraints to theoretical studies. The new Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams of Ba stars allowed us to accurately determine their evolutionary status and their masses. Additionally, we have recently determined the orbital properties of many main-sequence Ba stars, much less studied until now than their giant counterparts, which led to a thorough comparison of the properties of the two samples. The comparison between the distributions of masses, periods and eccentricities that resulted from this analysis allowed us to investigate the evolution of Ba-star systems between these two phases. Our models show that a second stage of binary interaction, this time between the main-sequence Ba star and its white-dwarf companion, also takes place in some systems, affecting the distribution of orbits observed among Ba giants.

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About the talk

Barium stars as tracers of binary evolution in the Gaia era
Dr. Ana Escorza Santos
KU Leuven
Thursday May 21, 2020 - 10:30 GMT+1  (Online)
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