Post-main-sequence Evolution of Icy Minor Planets. II. Water Retention and White Dwarf Pollution around Massive Progenitor Stars
Malamud et al
Most studies suggest that the pollution of white dwarf (WD) atmospheres arises from the accretion of minor planets, but the exact properties of polluting material, and in particular the evidence for water in some cases, are not yet understood. Here we study the water retention of small icy bodies in exo-solar planetary systems, as their respective host stars evolve through and off the main sequence and eventually become WDs. We explore, for the first time, a wide range of star masses and metallicities. We find that the mass of the WD progenitor star is of crucial importance for the retention of water, while its metallicity is relatively unimportant. We predict that minor planets around lower-mass WD progenitors would generally retain more water and would do so at closer distances from the WD than compared with high-mass progenitors. The dependence of water retention on progenitor mass and other parameters has direct implications for the origin of observed WD pollution, and we discuss how our results and predictions might be tested in the future as more observations of WDs with long cooling ages become available.