Simulations of common envelope evolution in triple systems: Circumstellar case

Hila Glanz, Hagai B. Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamical evolution of triple stellar systems could induce the formation of compact binaries and binary mergers. Common envelope (CE) evolution, which plays a major role in the evolution of compact binary systems, can similarly play a key role in the evolution of triples. Here, we use hydrodynamical simulations coupled with few-body dynamics to provide the first detailed models of the triple common envelope (TCE) evolution. We focus on the circumstellar case, where the envelope of an evolved giant engulfs a compact binary orbiting the giant, which then in-spirals into the core of the evolved star. Through our exploratory modelling, we find several possible outcomes of such TCE: the merger of the binary inside the third star's envelope; the disruption of the in-spiralling binary following its plunge, leading to a chaotic triple dynamics of the stellar core and the two components of the former disrupted binary. The chaotic evolution typically leads to the in-spiral and merger of at least one of the former binary components with the core, and sometimes to the ejection of the second, or alternatively its further now-binary CE evolution. The in-spiral in TCE leads to overall slower in-spiral, larger mass ejection, and the production of more aspherical remnant, compared with a corresponding binary case of similar masses, due to the energy/momentum extraction from the inner-binary. We expect TCE to play a key role in producing various types of stellar-mergers and unique compact binary systems, and potentially induce transient electromagnetic and gravitational wave sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1921-1932
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Binaries: close
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Software: simulations
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: mass-loss

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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