›RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting: Common Envelope Evolution and Post-Common-Envelope Systems
More than half of all solar-type stars exist in binary systems and a significant fraction of these are close enough to interact. In particular, the closest are expected to experience a common-envelope evolution whereby runaway, dynamically unstable, mass transfer leads to the entire system being engulfed by material lost from the envelope of one of the stars as it ascends the giant branch. The two stars then spiral in towards one another, shrinking the orbit and ejecting the envelope in the process.
The common envelope phase is critical for the formation of a wide variety of astrophysical phenomena, in particular transient phenomena like type Ia supernovae and stellar mass gravitational wave sources, yet the exact physics of the process remains a mystery. Additionally, in the last few years, it has been shown that the common envelope phase may play an important role in explaining a long-standing problem of nebular astrophysics: the so-called abundance discrepancy problem.
This workshop aims to bring together the various communities, both theoretical and observational, working on different (post-)common-envelope phenomena in order to further our understanding of the process as a whole. This is particularly timely given that with the recent or impending arrival of various new observing facilities like Gaia, LSST and LIGO-VIRGO - heralded by some as the golden age of time-domain and transient astronomy.
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