DDA 33rd Meeting, Mt. Hood, OR, April 2002
Session 3. Galaxy Centers
Monday, April 22, 2002, 1:40-3:50pm

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[3.02] Life and Death of Binaries Near the Galactic Center

J.G. Hills (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

On any astronomical timescale, binaries near the Galactic Center are strongly affected by interactions with their environment. We shall consider these processes. The high density of stars and possibly WIMPS (weakly interacting, massive particles) cause interactions that change the semimajor axes and eccentricities of the binaries. Interactions with more massive stars may, through exchange collisions, lead to a progressive increase in the masses of the binary components. Some binaries are destroyed through the coalescence of their components due to the high eccentricity that they attain. Others will be destroyed by encounters with energetic intruders that are capable of dissociating the binaries. The binaries that most easily surivive in this hostile environment have small semimajor axes and only white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole components,as such objects have little chance of coalescence under normal circumstances. These compact objects are also massive enough compared to the mass of the average star near the Galactic center that there is much less danger of their binary being disrupted in an encounter. Even binaries with compact companions have short lifetimes if their semimajor axes are less than 2 A.U. because they are forced into coalescence by the emission of gravitational radiation. The tidal field of the central black hole will distrupt binaries that pass close enough to it. If WIMPS make up any sizeable fraction of the mass density at the Galactic Center, they will cause a steady contraction of the semimajor axes of the binaries that may be measurable if one binary component is a pulsar.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3
© 2002. The American Astronomical Society.