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Attenuation of super-soft X-ray sources by circumstellar material

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Recent studies have suggested the possibility of significantly obscuring super-soft X-ray sources in relatively modest amounts of local matter lost from the binaries themselves. If correct, then this would have explained the paucity of observed super-soft X-ray sources and would have significance for the search for single-degenerate type Ia supernova progenitors. We point out that earlier studies of circumbinary obscuration ignored photo-ionisations of the gas by the emission from the super-soft X-ray source. We revisit the problem using a full, self-consistent calculation of the ionisation state of the circumbinary material photo-ionised by the radiation of the central source. Our results show that the circumstellar mass-loss rates required for obcuration of super-soft X-ray sources is about an order of magnitude larger than those reported in earlier studies, for comparable model parameters. While this does not entrirely rule out the possibility of circumstellar material obscuring super-soft X-ray sources, it makes it unlikely that this effect alone can account for the majority of the missing super-soft X-ray sources. We discuss the observational appearance of hypothetical obscured nuclear burning white dwarfs and show that they have signatures making them distinct from photo-ionised nebulae around super-soft X-ray sources imbedded in the low density ISM.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Volume453
Pages (from-to)2927-2936
ISSN0035-8711
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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