Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

Document Type



We present results from investigations of mass transfer instability in close binary star systems. By unstable mass transfer we mean the exchange of material where the response of the binary to the initial Roche lobe overflow causes the donor to loose even more material. Our work is guided by approximate arguments that dictate the stability boundaries for binary star systems. To proceed further one must explicitly treat extended mass and velocity distributions that are both nitially, and through their subsequent evolution in time, self-consistent. In this dissertation, we present the first three-dimensional, fully self-consistent treatment of mass transfer in close binary systems. To perform these calculations we have developed and tested a set of tools including a Self-Consistent Field code for generating polytropic binaries executing synchronous rotation upon circular orbits and a parallel, gravitational hydrodynamics code for evolving the binaries in time. We describe, in detail, these tools and their application to the evolution of binary star systems. We present extended simulations of two detached binaries that have been used to examine the accuracy of our computational techniques in addition to the simulations of interacting binaries.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Juhan Frank