We present a simple, semi--analytical description for the final stagesof mergers of black hole (BH) -- neutron star (NS) systems. Such systemsare of much interest as gravitational wave sources and gamma--ray burstprogenitors. Numerical studies show that in general the neutron star isnot disrupted at the first phase of mass transfer. Instead, what remainsof the neutron star is left on a wider, eccentric, orbit. We considerthe evolution of such systems as they lose angular momentum viagravitational radiation and come into contact for further phases of masstransfer. During each mass transfer event the neutron star mass isreduced until a critical value where mass loss leads to a rapid increasein the stellar radius. At this point Roche lobe overflow shreds whatremains of the neutron star, most of the mass forming a disc around theblack hole. Such a disc may be massive enough to power a gamma--rayburst. The mass of the neutron star at the time of disruption (andtherefore the disc mass) is largely independent of the initial masses ofthe black hole and neutron star, indicating that BH--NS star mergers maybe standard candles.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology