Major update published on 5 May 2014
One of the key features of Living Reviews is that its articles are kept up-to-date by their authors. A major update is considered a new publication. As such it is again subject to peer review and is issued with a new publication number.
Major revision, updated and expanded. References are updated by 2007 – early-2014 publications, some outdated items removed. The reference list now contains 887 items instead of 475. The new version of the review has 39 figures. In Section 1, stellar evolution is outlined in more detail, special attention is paid to electron-capture supernovae. More attention than before is paid to uncertainties in the estimates of the ranges of precursors of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes and their masses. In Section 2, a subsection (2.3) on black holes in binaries is added and an independent estimate of black-hole/neutron-star binary coalescence rate is given. In Section 3, a subsection on mass transfer between binary components is added, discussion of common envelopes is expanded. In Section 7, the discussion of a scenario for the formation of short-period binaries is appended by a more detailed description of “intermediate” stages, like post–common-envelope binaries, the discussion of properties of binary WD is expanded, the comparison of results of population synthesis calculations for close WD with observations is updated, thanks to a significant increase in the number of observed objects. A much extended comparison of expectations from scenarios for single-degenerate and double-degenerate SNe Ia (including violent mergers) is presented. In Section 8 all published information on double-degenerates with measured periods and estimates of masses of components and some subgiant + [white dwarf] systems is summarized (up to February 2014). In Section 9 more attention than previously is paid to the initial stages of mass exchange in the “white dwarf” channel of formation of AM CVn stars and to the comparison of “white dwarf” and “helium star” channels. Final stages of the evolution of AM CVn stars and SN .Ia are discussed. In Section 10 the GW-signals of detached and interacting double-degenerates are compared in more detail, as well as their detection probabilities with planned “short-arm” (eLISA) interferometer. The former section on the overlap of EM and GW-signals from AM CVn stars is deleted because of the (temporary?) cancellation of the LISA-mission.