Head-on collisions of binary white dwarf-neutron stars: Simulations in full general relativity

Vasileios Paschalidis, Zachariah Etienne, Yuk Tung Liu, Stuart L. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We simulate head-on collisions from rest at large separation of binary white dwarf-neutron stars (WDNSs) in full general relativity. Our study serves as a prelude to our analysis of the circular binary WDNS problem. We focus on compact binaries whose total mass exceeds the maximum mass that a cold-degenerate star can support, and our goal is to determine the fate of such systems. A fully general relativistic hydrodynamic computation of a realistic WDNS head-on collision is prohibitive due to the large range of dynamical time scales and length scales involved. For this reason, we construct an equation of state (EOS) which captures the main physical features of neutron stars (NSs) while, at the same time, scales down the size of white dwarfs (WDs). We call these scaled-down WD models "pseudo-WDs (pWDs)." Using pWDs, we can study these systems via a sequence of simulations where the size of the pWD gradually increases toward the realistic case. We perform two sets of simulations; One set studies the effects of the NS mass on the final outcome, when the pWD is kept fixed. The other set studies the effect of the pWD compaction on the final outcome, when the pWD mass and the NS are kept fixed. All simulations show that after the collision, 14%-18% of the initial total rest mass escapes to infinity. All remnant masses still exceed the maximum rest mass that our cold EOS can support (1.92M), but no case leads to prompt collapse to a black hole. This outcome arises because the final configurations are hot. All cases settle into spherical, quasiequilibrium configurations consisting of a cold NS core surrounded by a hot mantle, resembling Thorne-Zytkow objects. Extrapolating our results to realistic WD compactions, we predict that the likely outcome of a head-on collision of a realistic, massive WDNS system will be the formation of a quasiequilibrium Thorne-Zytkow-like object.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064002
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Head-on collisions of binary white dwarf-neutron stars: Simulations in full general relativity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this