Tidally Induced Oscillations and Orbital Decay in Compact Triple-Star Systems
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AbstractWe investigate the nature of tidal effects in compact triple-star systems. The hierarchical structure of a triple system produces tidal forcing at high frequencies unobtainable in binary systems, allowing for the tidal excitation of high frequency p-modes in the stellar components. The tidal forcing exists even for circular, aligned, and synchronized systems. We calculate the magnitude and frequencies of three-body tidal forcing on the central primary star for circular and coplanar orbits, and we estimate the amplitude of the tidally excited oscillation modes. We also calculate the secular orbital changes induced by the tidally excited modes, and show that they can cause significant orbital decay. During certain phases of stellar evolution, the tidal dissipation may be greatly enhanced by resonance locking. We then compare our theory to observations of HD 181068, which is a hierarchical triply eclipsing star system in the Kepler field of view. The observed oscillation frequencies in HD 181068 can be naturally explained by three-body tidal effects. We then compare the observed oscillation amplitudes and phases in HD 181068 to our predictions, finding mostly good agreement. Finally, we discuss the past and future evolution of compact triple systems like HD 181068.