Compact binaries, hypernovae, and GRBs
The collapse of a massive stellar core may lead to the production of a black hole surrounded by a torus of material. Such a system is a potential source for the so-called long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). A torus will form around the black hole if the infalling material contains sufficient angular momentum. This however requires that the core of the massive star rotates extremely rapidly prior to collapse. Here we explore whether tidal locking within binaries can spin stars up sufficiently. We show that the binaries are required to have separations 3–4 R, hence the massive star would have lost its outer envelope (for example in a common envelope phase). In addition, the companions to the massive stars must themselves be compact. Comparison with observed tight binaries, which contain either two neutron stars or a neutron star and a white dwarf, shows that angular momentum is likely to have played an important role during the core collapse of the secondary in about half the systems, including the recently-discovered neutron star binary J0737-3039. Even if these systems failed to produce a GRB, as they do not contain a black hole, they are relevant to the problem of GRB production as a very similar evolutionary pathway (but with a slightly more massive helium star core) may well produce a GRB.