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Publications (7)36.76 Total impact

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    Ondrej Pejcha, Todd A. Thompson
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    ABSTRACT: If the neutrino luminosity from the protoneutron star formed during a massive star core collapse exceeds a critical threshold, a supernova (SN) results. The normalization of this critical threshold and its dependencies on the parameters of the system remain uncertain. Using spherical quasi-static evolutionary sequences for many hundreds of progenitors over a wide range of metallicities, we study how the explosion threshold maps onto observables - (1) fraction of successful explosions, (2) remnant neutron star (NS) and black hole (BH) mass functions, (3) explosion energies (E_SN), (4) nickel yields (M_Ni) - and their mutual correlations. We show that the neutrino mechanism can in principle explain the observed properties of SNe and the compact objects they produce. Successful explosions are intertwined with failures in a complex but well-defined pattern that is not well described by the progenitor initial mass and is not simply related to compactness. In the context of single-star progenitors, we show that the neutrino mechanism predicts that at solar metallicity, initial masses of 15+/-1, 19+/-1, and 21-26 M_Sun are most likely to form BHs, that the BH formation probability is significantly higher for low metallicity progenitors, and that low luminosity, low M_Ni SNe come from progenitors close to success/failure interfaces. We qualitatively reproduce the correlation between E_SN and M_Ni and we predict a correlation between both the mean and width of the NS mass distribution and E_SN distribution. We use the observed properties of NSs, BHs, and SN explosions to study the likelihood of many parameterizations of the neutrino mechanism. We find a distinct region of high probability favoring the existence of failed supernovae. We argue that the rugged landscape of progenitor structures mandates performing internally consistent simulations for large sets of progenitors. (Abridged)
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We study the orbital evolution of hierarchical quadruple systems composed of two binaries on a long mutual orbit, where each binary acts as a Kozai-Lidov (KL) perturber on the other. We find that the coupling between the two binaries qualitatively changes the behavior of their KL cycles. The binaries can experience coherent eccentricity oscillations as well as excursions to very high eccentricity that occur over a much larger fraction of the parameter space than in triple systems. For a ratio of outer to inner semi-major axes of 10 to 20, about 30 to 50% of equal-mass quadruples reach eccentricity 1-e < 10^{-3} in one of the binaries. This is about 4 to 12 times more than for triples with equivalent parameters. Orbital "flips" and collisions without previous tidal interaction are similarly enhanced in quadruples relative to triples. We argue that the frequency of evolutionary paths influenced by KL cycles is comparable in the triple and quadruple populations even though field quadruples are a factor of ~5 less frequent than triples. Additionally, quadruples might be a non-negligible source of triples and provide fundamentally new evolutionary outcomes involving close binaries, mergers, collisions, and associated transients, which occur without any fine tuning of parameters. Finally, we study the perturbations to a planetary orbit due to a distant binary and we find that the fraction of orbital flips is a factor of 3 to 4 higher than for the corresponding triple system given our fiducial parameters with implications for hot Jupiters and star-planet collisions.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2013; 435(2). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The observed distribution of neutron star (NS) masses reflects the physics of core-collapse supernova explosions and the structure of the massive stars that produce them at the end of their evolution. We present a Bayesian analysis that directly compares the NS mass distribution observed in double NS systems to theoretical models of NS formation. We find that models with standard binary mass ratio distributions are strongly preferred over independently picking the masses from the initial mass function, although the strength of the inference depends on whether current assumptions for identifying the remnants of the primary and secondary stars are correct. Second, NS formation models with no mass fallback are favored because they reduce the dispersion in NS masses. The double NS system masses thus directly point to the mass coordinate where the supernova explosion was initiated, making them an excellent probe of the supernova explosion mechanism. If we assume no fallback and simply vary the mass coordinate separating the remnant and the supernova ejecta, we find that for solar metallicity stars the explosion most likely develops at the edge of the iron core at a specific entropy of about 2.8 k_B. The primary limitations of our study are the poor knowledge of the supernova explosion mechanism and the lack of broad range of SN model explosions of LMC to solar metallicity.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2012; 424(2). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    Ondrej Pejcha, Christopher S. Kochanek
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    ABSTRACT: We perform a global fit to ~5,000 radial velocity and ~177,000 magnitude measurements in 29 photometric bands covering 0.3 to 8.0 microns distributed among 287 Galactic, LMC, and SMC Cepheids with P > 10 days. We assume that the Cepheid light curves and radial velocities are fully characterized by distance, reddening, and time-dependent radius and temperature variations. We construct phase curves of radius and temperature for periods between 10 and 100 days, which yield light curve templates for all our photometric bands and can be easily generalized to any additional band. With only 4 to 6 parameters per Cepheid, depending on the existence of velocity data and the amount of freedom in the distance, the models have typical rms light and velocity curve residuals of 0.05 mag and 3.5 km/s. The model derives the mean Cepheid spectral energy distribution and its derivative with respect to temperature, which deviate from a black body in agreement with metal-line and molecular opacity effects. We determine a mean reddening law towards the Cepheids in our sample, which is not consistent with standard assumptions in either the optical or near-IR. Based on stellar atmosphere models we predict the biases in distance, reddening, and temperature determinations due to the metallicity and we quantify the metallicity signature expected for our fit residuals. The observed residuals as a function of wavelength show clear differences between the individual galaxies, which are compatible with these predictions. In particular, we find that metal-poor Cepheids appear hotter. Finally, we provide a framework for optimally selecting filters that yield the smallest overall errors in Cepheid parameter determination, or filter combinations for suppressing or enhancing the metallicity effects on distance determinations. We make our templates publicly available.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2011; 748(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the seconds after collapse of a massive star, the newborn proto-neutron star (PNS) radiates neutrinos of all flavors. The absorption of electron-type neutrinos below the radius of the stalled shockwave may drive explosions (the "neutrino mechanism"). Because the heating rate is proportional to the square of neutrino energy, flavor conversion of mu and tau neutrinos to electron-type neutrinos via collective neutrino oscillations (CnuO) may in principle increase the heating rate and drive explosions. In order to assess the potential importance of CnuO for the shock revival, we solve the steady-state boundary value problem of spherically-symmetric accretion between the PNS surface (r_nu) and the shock (r_S), including a scheme for flavor conversion via CnuO. For a given r_nu, PNS mass (M), accretion rate (Mdot), and assumed values of the neutrino energies from the PNS, we calculate the critical neutrino luminosity above which accretion is impossible and explosion results. We show that CnuO can decrease the critical luminosity by a factor of at most ~1.5, but only if the flavor conversion is fully completed inside r_S and if there is no matter suppression. The magnitude of the effect depends on the model parameters (M, Mdot, and r_nu) through the shock radius and the physical scale for flavor conversion. We quantify these dependencies and find that CnuO could lower the critical luminosity only for small M and Mdot, and large r_nu. However, for these parameter values CnuO are suppressed due to matter effects. By quantifying the importance of CnuO and matter suppression at the critical neutrino luminosity for explosion, we show in agreement with previous studies that CnuO are unlikely to affect the neutrino mechanism of core-collapse supernovae significantly.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2011; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    Ondrej Pejcha, Todd A. Thompson
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    ABSTRACT: (Abridged) Neutrino heating may drive core-collapse supernova explosions. Although it is known that the stalled accretion shock turns into explosion when the neutrino luminosity from the collapsed core exceeds a critical value (L_crit) (the "neutrino mechanism"), the physics of L_crit, as well as its dependence on the properties of the proto-neutron star (PNS) and changes to the microphysics has never been systematically explored. We solve the one-dimensional steady-state accretion problem between the PNS surface and the accretion shock. We quantify the deep connection between the solution space of steady-state accretion flows with bounding shocks and the neutrino mechanism. We show that there is a maximum, critical sound speed above which it is impossible to maintain accretion with a standoff shock, because the shock jump conditions cannot be satisfied. The physics of this critical sound speed is general and does not depend on a specific heating mechanism. For the simple model of pressure-less free-fall onto a shock bounding an isothermal accretion flow with sound speed c_T, we show that if c_T^2/v_escape^2 > 3/16 explosion results. We generalize this result to the more complete supernova problem, showing explicitly that the same physics determines L_crit. We find that the critical condition for explosion can be written as c_S^2/v_escape^2 = 0.19, where c_S is the adiabatic sound speed. This "antesonic" condition describes L_crit over a broad range in accretion rate and microphysics. We show that the addition of the accretion luminosity (L_acc) reduces L_crit non-trivially. As in previous work, we find that L_crit is always significantly higher than the maximum possible value of L_acc. Finally, we provide evidence that the reduction in L_crit seen in recent multi-dimensional simulations results from a reduction in the efficiency of cooling, rather than an increase in the heating rate.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2011; · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    Ondrej Pejcha, David Heyrovsky
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    ABSTRACT: We explore the sensitivity of two-point-mass gravitational microlensing to the extended nature of the source star, as well as the related sensitivity to its limb darkening. We demonstrate that the sensitive region, usually considered to be limited to a source-diameter-wide band along the caustic, is strongly expanded near cusps, most prominently along their outer axis. In the case of multi-component caustics, facing cusps may form a region with a non-negligible extended-source effect spanning the gap between them. We demonstrate that for smaller sources the size of the sensitive region extending from a cusp measured in units of source radii increases, scaling as the inverse cube root of the radius. We study the extent of different sensitivity contours and show that for a microlensed Galactic bulge giant the probability of encountering at least a 1% extended-source effect is higher than the probability of caustic crossing by 40-60% when averaged over a typical range of lens-component separations, with the actual value depending on the mass ratio of the components. We derive analytical expressions for the extended-source effect and chromaticity for a source positioned off the caustic. These formulae are more generally applicable to any gravitational lens with a sufficiently small source. Using exactly computed amplifications we test the often used linear-fold caustic approximation and show that it may lead to errors on the level of a few percent even in near-ideal caustic-crossing events. Finally, we discuss several interesting cases of observed binary and planetary microlensing events and point out the importance of our results for the measurement of stellar limb darkening from microlensing light curves.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2008; · 6.73 Impact Factor