Tidally Trapped Pulsations in Binary Stars

Fuller, J, Kurtz, Donald Wayne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1015-3268, Handler, G and Rappaport, S (2020) Tidally Trapped Pulsations in Binary Stars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 498 (4). pp. 5730-5744. ISSN 0035-8711

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa2376


Abstract A new class of pulsating binary stars was recently discovered, whose pulsation amplitudes are strongly modulated with orbital phase. Stars in close binaries are tidally distorted, so we examine how a star’s tidally induced asphericity affects its oscillation mode frequencies and eigenfunctions. We explain the pulsation amplitude modulation via tidal mode coupling such that the pulsations are effectively confined to certain regions of the star, e.g., the tidal pole or the tidal equator. In addition to a rigorous mathematical formalism to compute this coupling, we provide a more intuitive semi-analytic description of the process. We discuss three resulting effects: 1. Tidal alignment, i.e., the alignment of oscillation modes about the tidal axis rather than the rotation axis; 2. Tidal trapping, e.g., the confinement of oscillations near the tidal poles or the tidal equator; 3. Tidal amplification, i.e., increased flux perturbations near the tidal poles where acoustic modes can propagate closer to the surface of the star. Together, these phenomena can account for the pulsation amplitude and phase modulation of the recently discovered class of “tidally tilted pulsators.” We compare our theory to the three tidally tilted pulsators HD 74423, CO Cam, and TIC 63328020, finding that tidally trapped modes that are axisymmetric about the tidal axis can largely explain the first two, while a non-axisymmetric tidally aligned mode is present in the latter. Finally, we discuss implications and limitations of the theory, and we make predictions for the many new tidally tilted pulsators likely to be discovered in the near future.

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