Vol 16, No 4

A low-mass-ratio and deep contact binary as the progenitor of the merger V1309 Sco

Li-Ying Zhu, Er-Gang Zhao, Xiao Zhou


Abstract Nova Sco 2008 (=V1309 Sco) is an example of a V838 Mon type eruption rather than a typical classical nova. This enigmatic object was recently shown to have resulted from the merger of two stars in a contact binary. It is the first stellar merger that was identified to be undergoing a common envelope transient. To understand the properties of its binary progenitor, the pre-outburst light curves were analyzed by using the W-D method. The photometric solution of the 2002 light curve shows that it is a deep contact binary (f = 89.5(±40.5)%) with a mass ratio of 0.094. The asymmetry of the light curve is explained by the presence of a dark spot on the more massive component. The extremely high fill-out factor suggests that the merging of the contact binary is driven by dynamical mass loss from the outer Lagrange point. However, the analysis of the 2004 light curve indicates that no solutions were obtained even at an extremely low mass ratio of q = 0.03. This suggests that the common convective envelope of the binary system disappeared and the secondary component spiraled into the envelope of the primary in 2004. Finally, the ejection of the envelope of the primary produced the outburst.


Keywords stars: binaries: close — stars: binaries: eclipsing — stars: individuals (V1309 Sco) — stars: evolution — stars: mass-loss

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