Jim Fuller, Dong Lai
2012 Astrophysical Journal Letters  
Compact binary white dwarfs (WDs) undergoing orbital decay due to gravitational radiation can experience significant tidal heating prior to merger. In these WDs, the dominant tidal effect involves the excitation of outgoing gravity waves in the inner stellar envelope and the dissipation of these waves in the outer envelope. As the binary orbit decays, the WDs are synchronized from outside in (with the envelope synchronized first, followed by the core). We examine the deposition of tidal heat in
more » ... the envelope of a Carbon-Oxygen WD and study how such tidal heating affects the structure and evolution of the WD. We show that significant tidal heating can occur in the star's degenerate hydrogen layer. This layer heats up faster than it cools, triggering runaway nuclear fusion. Such "tidal novae" may occur in all WD binaries containing a CO WD, at orbital periods between 5 min and 20 min, and precede the final merger by 10^5-10^6 years.
doi:10.1088/2041-8205/756/1/l17 fatcat:7mu2jq47jnbzlmd3d5lyi26ciq