In this article Shortest distance between stars it is mentioned that

Some double stars can actually be in contact with each other.

This occurs when a red giant star has a white dwarf star companion in a very close orbit.

However, this isnt the case

Hottest, heaviest touching double stars

In the case of VFTS 352, however, both stars in the system are of almost identical size. Material is, therefore, not sucked from one to another, but instead may be shared.

My question then is, can any type of stars be contact binaries, or are there some limitations in the type of stars for contact binaries to appear?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It will depend a bit on your definition of "stable." Should both stars remain in their current phase of life for 1e6 years, or 1e9 years, for example? BTW, I'd be cautious about quoting quora.com as a solid source. But here's a page that may be informative: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/197110/… $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 7 at 16:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ But, skimming various articles, I get the feeling that "We don't know for sure" is the correct answer, and as we find more unusual and interesting things out there, we may see all sorts of possible outcomes for close-orbit binaries. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 7 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ I bet there aren't any contact neutron star pairs. ;) They'd just squish together, and if the combined mass is high enough, they'd collapse into a black hole $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Feb 7 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @PM2Ring 2 very close neutron stars would spiral in towards each other creating gravity waves. That might make a good question as to what happens when 2 neutron stars collide. I'll research it a bit first, but I'm not sure a black hole would be the end result. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Feb 8 at 0:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @userLTK I'm aware of Hulse & Taylor's binary pulsar PSR B1913+16. I'm also aware of the gravitational wave event GW170817 detected by LIGO & Virgo in August 2016, which was most likely a neutron star merger, that produced a cloud of neutron-rich elements. Wikipedia says the remnant was most likely a hypermassive neutron star which collapsed into a black hole in milliseconds. In my previous comment, I was simply noting that 2 neutron stars could not orbit in contact for more than a very brief time because they would rapidly merge. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Feb 8 at 5:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.