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Observational Evidence for Tidal Interaction in Close Binary Systems

  • M.-J. Goupil, J.-P. Zahn and T. Mazeh (a1)

Abstract

This paper reviews the rich corpus of observational evidence for tidal effects, mostly based on photometric and radial-velocity measurements. This is done in a period when the study of binaries is being revolutionized by large-scaled photometric surveys that are detecting many thousands of new binaries and tens of extrasolar planets. We begin by examining the short-term effects, such as ellipsoidal variability and apsidal motion. We next turn to the long-term effects, of which circularization was studied the most: a transition period between circular and eccentric orbits has been derived for eight coeval samples of binaries. The study of synchronization and spin-orbit alignment is less advanced. As binaries are supposed to reach synchronization before circularization, one can expect finding eccentric binaries in pseudo-synchronization state, the evidence for which is reviewed. We also discuss synchronization in PMS and young stars, and compare the emerging timescale with the circularization timescale. We next examine the tidal interaction in close binaries that are orbited by a third distant companion, and review the effect of pumping the binary eccentricity by the third star. We elaborate on the impact of the pumped eccentricity on the tidal evolution of close binaries residing in triple systems, which may shrink the binary separation. Finally we consider the extrasolar planets and the observational evidence for tidal interaction with their parent stars. This includes a mechanism that can induce radial drift of short-period planets, either inward or outward, depending on the planetary radial position relative to the corotation radius. Another effect is the circularization of planetary orbits, the evidence for which can be found in eccentricity-versus-period plot of the planets already known. Whenever possible, the paper attempts to address the possible confrontation between theory and observations, and to point out noteworthy cases and observations that can be performed in the future and may shed some light on the key questions that remain open.

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