Posts Tagged white dwarf

Recent Postings from white dwarf

Swift J0525.6+2416 and IGR J04571+4527: two new hard X-ray selected magnetic cataclysmic variables identified with XMM-Newton

IGR J04571+4527 and Swift J0525.6+2416 are two hard X-ray sources detected in the Swift/BAT and INTEGRAL/IBIS surveys. They were proposed to be magnetic cataclysmic variables of the Intermediate Polar (IP) type, based on optical spectroscopy. IGR J04571+4527 also showed a 1218 s optical periodicity, suggestive of the rotational period of a white dwarf, further pointing towards an IP classification. We here present detailed X-ray (0.3-10 keV) timing and spectral analysis performed with XMM-Newton, complemented with hard X-ray coverage (15-70 keV) from Swift/BAT. These are the first high signal to noise observations in the soft X-ray domain for both sources, allowing us to identify the white dwarf X-ray spin period of Swift J0525.6+2416 (226.28 s), and IGR J04571+4527 (1222.6 s). A model consisting of multi-temperature optically thin emission with complex absorption adequately fits the broad-band spectrum of both sources. We estimate a white dwarf mass of about 1.1 and 1.0 solar masses for IGR J04571+4527 and Swift J0525.6+2416, respectively. The above characteristics allow us to unambiguously classify both sources as IPs, confirming the high incidence of this subclass among hard X-ray emitting Cataclysmic Variables.

A second case of outbursts in a pulsating white dwarf observed by Kepler

We present observations of a new phenomenon in pulsating white dwarf stars: large-amplitude outbursts at timescales much longer than the pulsation periods. The cool (Teff = 11,010 K), hydrogen-atmosphere pulsating white dwarf PG 1149+057 was observed nearly continuously for more than 78.8 d by the extended Kepler mission in K2 Campaign 1. The target showed 10 outburst events, recurring roughly every 8 d and lasting roughly 15 hr, with maximum flux excursions up to 45% in the Kepler bandpass. We demonstrate that the outbursts affect the pulsations and therefore must come from the white dwarf. Additionally, we argue that these events are not magnetic reconnection flares, and are most likely connected to the stellar pulsations and the relatively deep surface convection zone. PG 1149+057 is now the second cool pulsating white dwarf to show this outburst phenomenon, after the first variable white dwarf observed in the Kepler mission, KIC 4552982. Both stars have the same effective temperature, within the uncertainties, and are among the coolest known pulsating white dwarfs of typical mass. These outbursts provide fresh observational insight into the red edge of the DAV instability strip and the eventual cessation of pulsations in cool white dwarfs.

Constraining Neutrino Cooling using the Hot White Dwarf Luminosity Function in the Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae

We present Hubble Space Telescope observations of the upper part (T_eff> 10 000 K) of the white dwarf cooling sequence in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae and measure a luminosity function of hot white dwarfs. Comparison with previous determinations from large scale field surveys indicates that the previously determined plateau at high effective temperatures is likely a selection effect, as no such feature is seen in this sample. Comparison with theoretical models suggests that the current estimates of white dwarf neutrino emission (primarily by the plasmon channel) are accurate, and variations are restricted to no more than a factor of two globally, at 95% confidence. We use these constraints to place limits on various proposed exotic emission mechanisms, including a non-zero neutrino magnetic moment, formation of axions, and emission of Kaluza-Klein modes into extra dimensions.

Effects of strong magnetic fields and rotation on white dwarf structure

In this paper we compute relativistic stars models for the structure of white dwarfs under the influence of strong magnetic field and rotation. The magnetic field is assumed to be poloidal and axisymmetric. We find a maximum mass for a static magnetized white dwarf of about 2.13 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ in the Newtonian case and a value of 2.09 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ taking into account general relativistic effects. We also present properties of uniformly rotating white dwarfs and we show that the maximum mass is shifted from a mass of $\sim$ 1.40 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ for non-rotating white dwarf to $\sim$ 1.45 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ in the keplerian limit. We present also results for rotating magnetized white dwarfs calculated in a self$-$consistent way by solving the Maxwell and Einstein equations together. The maximum field strength obtained is about $10^{15}\,$G at the center of the star in the static and $10^{14}\,$G in the rotating case.

Getting to know Classical Novae with Swift

Novae have been reported as transients for more than two thousand years. Their bright optical outbursts are the result of explosive nuclear burning of gas accreted from a binary companion onto a white dwarf. Novae containing a white dwarf close to the Chandrasekhar mass limit and accreting at a high rate are potentially the unknown progenitors of the type Ia supernovae used to measure the acceleration of the Universe. Swift X-ray observations have radically transformed our view of novae by providing dense monitoring throughout the outburst, revealing new phenomena in the super-soft X-rays from the still-burning white dwarf such as early extreme variability and half- to one-minute timescale quasi-periodic oscillations. The distinct evolution of this emission from the harder X-ray emission due to ejecta shocks has been clearly delineated. Soft X-ray observations allow the mass of the white dwarf, the mass burned and the mass ejected to be estimated. In combination with observations at other wavelengths, including the high spectral resolution observations of the large X-ray observatories, high resolution optical and radio imaging, radio monitoring, optical spectroscopy, and the detection of GeV gamma-ray emission from recent novae, models of the explosion have been tested and developed. I review nine novae for which Swift has made a significant impact; these have shown the signature of the components in the interacting binary system in addition to the white dwarf: the re-formed accretion disk, the companion star and its stellar wind.

Unambiguous Detection of Reflection in Magnetic Cataclysmic Variables: Joint NuSTAR-XMM-Newton Observations of Three Intermediate Polars

In magnetic cataclysmic variables (CVs), X-ray emission regions are located close to the white dwarf surface, which is expected to reflect a significant fraction of intrinsic X-rays above 10 keV, producing a Compton reflection hump. However, up to now, a secure detection of this effect in magnetic CVs has largely proved elusive because of the limited sensitivity of non-imaging X-ray detectors. Here we report our analysis of joint NuSTAR/XMM-Newton observations of three magnetic CVs, V709 Cas, NY Lup, and V1223 Sgr. The improved hard X-ray sensitivity of the imaging NuSTAR data has resulted in the first robust detection of Compton hump in all three objects, with amplitudes of ~1 or greater in NY Lup, and likely <1.0 in the other two. We also confirm earlier report of a strong spin modulation above 10 keV in V709 Cas, and report the first detection of small spin amplitudes in the others. We interpret this as due to different height of the X-ray emitting region among these objects. A height of ~0.2 white dwarf radii provides a plausible explanation for the low reflection amplitude of V709 Cas. Since emission regions above both poles are visible at certain spin phases, this can also explain the strong hard X-ray spin modulation. A shock height of ~0.05 white dwarf radii can explain our results on V1223 Sgr, while the shock height in NY Lup appears negligible.

The V471 Tauri System: A Multi-datatype Probe

V471 Tauri, a white dwarf–red dwarf eclipsing binary in the Hyades, is well known for stimulating development of common envelope theory, whereby novae and other cataclysmic variables form from much wider binaries by catastrophic orbit shrinkage. Our evaluation of a recent imaging search that reported negative results for a much postulated third body shows that the object could have escaped detection or may have actually been seen. The balance of evidence continues to favor a brown dwarf companion about 12 AU from the eclipsing binary. A recently developed algorithm finds unified solutions from three datatypes. New radial velocities (RVs) of the red dwarf and BV RCIC light curves are solved simultaneously along with white dwarf and red dwarf RVs from the literature, uvby data, the MOST mission light curve, and 40 years of eclipse timings. Precision-based weighting is the key to proper information balance among the various datasets. Timewise variation of modeled starspots allows unified solution of multiple data eras. Light curve amplitudes strongly suggest decreasing spottedness from 1976 to about 1980, followed by approximately constant spot coverage from 1981 to 2005. An explanation is proposed for lack of noticeable variation in 1981 light curves, in terms of competition between spot and tidal variations. Photometric spectroscopic distance is estimated. The red dwarf mass comes out larger than normal for a K2V star, and even larger than adopted in several structure and evolution papers. An identified cause for this result is that much improved red dwarf RVs curves now exist.

An independent test of the photometric selection of white dwarf candidates using LAMOST DR3

In Gentile Fusillo et al. (2015) we developed a selection method for white dwarf candidates which makes use of photometry, colours and proper motions to calculate a probability of being a white dwarf (Pwd). The application of our method to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data release 10 resulted in nearly 66,000 photometrically selected objects with a derived Pwd, approximately 21000 of which are high confidence white dwarf candidates. Here we present an independent test of our selection method based on a sample of spectroscopically confirmed white dwarfs from the LAMOST (Large Sky Area Multi-Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope) survey. We do this by cross matching all our $\sim$66,000 SDSS photometric white dwarf candidates with the over 4 million spectra available in the third data release of LAMOST. This results in 1673 white dwarf candidates with no previous SDSS spectroscopy, but with available LAMOST spectra. Among these objects we identify 309 genuine white dwarfs. We find that our Pwd can efficiently discriminate between confirmed LAMOST white dwarfs and contaminants. Our white dwarf candidate selection method can be applied to any multi-band photometric survey and in this work we conclusively confirm its reliability in selecting white dwarfs without recourse to spectroscopy. We also discuss the spectroscopic completeness of white dwarfs in LAMOST, as well as deriving effective temperatures, surface gravities and masses for the hydrogen-rich atmosphere white dwarfs in the newly identified LAMOST sample.

Extensive photometry of the WZ Sge-type dwarf nova V455 And (HS2331+3905): detection of negative superhumps and coherence features of the short-period oscillations

We report the results of photometry of the WZ Sge-type dwarf nova V455 And. Observations were obtained over 19 nights in 2013 and 2014. The total duration of the observations was 96 h. We clearly detected three coherent oscillations with periods of 80.376+/-0.003 min, 40.5431+/-0.0004 min and 67.619685+/-0.000040 s. The 67.619685-s period can be the spin period of the white dwarf. The 40.5431-minute period is the first harmonic of the orbital period. The 80.376-minute oscillation can be a negative superhump because its period is 0.9% less than the orbital period. This oscillation was evident both in the data of 2013 and in the data of 2014. These results make V455 And a permanent superhump system which shows negative superhumps. This is also the first detection of persistent negative superhumps in a WZ Sge-type dwarf nova. In addition, the analysis of our data revealed incoherent oscillations with periods in the range 5-6 min, which were observed earlier and accounted for by non-radial pulsations of the white dwarf. Moreover, we clearly detected an oscillation with a period of 67.28+/-0.03 s, which was of a low degree of coherence. This oscillation conforms to the beat between the spin period of the white dwarf and the 3.5-h spectroscopic period, which was discovered earlier and accounted for by the free precession of the white dwarf. Because the 67.28-s period is shorter than the spin period and because the free precession of the white dwarf is retrograde, we account for the 67.28-s oscillation by the free precession of the white dwarf.

An Extreme-AO Search for Giant Planets around a White Dwarf --VLT/SPHERE performance on a faint target GD 50

CONTEXT. Little is known about the planetary systems around single white dwarfs although there is strong evidence that they do exist. AIMS. We performed a pilot study with the extreme-AO system on the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) on the Very Large Telescopes (VLT) to look for giant planets around a young white dwarf, GD 50. METHODS. We were awarded science verification time on the new ESO instrument SPHERE. Observations were made with the InfraRed Dual-band Imager and Spectrograph in classical imaging mode in H band. RESULTS. Despite the faintness of the target (14.2 mag in R band), the AO loop was closed and a strehl of 37\% was reached in H band. No objects were detected around GD 50. We achieved a 5-sigma contrast of 6.2, 8.0 and 8.25 mags at 0{\farcs}2, 0{\farcs}4 and 0{\farcs}6 and beyond, respectively. We exclude any substellar objects more massive than 4.0 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 6.2 AU, 2.9 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 12.4 AU and 2.8 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 18.6 AU and beyond. This is the most stringent upper limit on a substellar object around any single white dwarf. We further show that SPHERE is the most promising instrument available to search for substellar objects around nearby white dwarfs.

An Extreme-AO Search for Giant Planets around a White Dwarf --VLT/SPHERE performance on a faint target GD 50 [Replacement]

CONTEXT. Little is known about the planetary systems around single white dwarfs although there is strong evidence that they do exist. AIMS. We performed a pilot study with the extreme-AO system on the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) on the Very Large Telescopes (VLT) to look for giant planets around a young white dwarf, GD 50. METHODS. We were awarded science verification time on the new ESO instrument SPHERE. Observations were made with the InfraRed Dual-band Imager and Spectrograph in classical imaging mode in H band. RESULTS. Despite the faintness of the target (14.2 mag in R band), the AO loop was closed and a strehl of 37\% was reached in H band. No objects were detected around GD 50. We achieved a 5-sigma contrast of 6.2, 8.0 and 8.25 mags at 0{\farcs}2, 0{\farcs}4 and 0{\farcs}6 and beyond, respectively. We exclude any substellar objects more massive than 4.0 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 6.2 AU, 2.9 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 12.4 AU and 2.8 M$_\textrm{J}$ at 18.6 AU and beyond. This rivals the previous upper limit set by Spitzer. We further show that SPHERE is the most promising instrument available to search for close-in substellar objects around nearby white dwarfs.

Dynamical masses of a nova-like variable on the edge of the period gap

We present the first dynamical determination of the binary parameters of an eclipsing SW Sextantis star in the 3-4 hour orbital period range during a low state. We obtained time-resolved optical spectroscopy and photometry of HS 0220+0603 during its 2004-2005 low brightness state, as revealed in the combined SMARTS, IAC80 and M1 Group long-term optical light curve. The optical spectra taken during primary eclipse reveal a secondary star spectral type of M5.5 $\pm$ 0.5 as derived from molecular band-head indices. The spectra also provide the first detection of a DAB white dwarf in a cataclysmic variable. By modelling its optical spectrum we estimate a white dwarf temperature of 30000 $\pm$ 5000 K. By combining the results of modelling the white dwarf eclipse from ULTRACAM light curves with those obtained by simultaneously fitting the emission- and absorption-line radial velocity curves and I-band ellipsoidal light curves, we measure the stellar masses to be M$_1 = 0.87 \pm 0.09$ M$_\odot$ and M$_2 = 0.47 \pm 0.05$ M$_\odot$ for the white dwarf and the M dwarf, respectively, and an inclination of the orbital plane of $i \approx 79^\mathrm{o}$. A radius of $0.0103 \pm 0.0007$ R$_\odot$ is obtained for the white dwarf. The secondary star in HS 0220+0603 is likely too cool and undersized for its mass.

The Composition Of A Disrupted Extrasolar Planetesimal At SDSS J0845+2257 (Ton 345)

We present a detailed study of the metal-polluted DB white dwarf SDSS J0845+2257 (Ton 345). Using high-resolution HST/COS and VLT spectroscopy, we have detected hydrogen and eleven metals in the atmosphere of the white dwarf. The origin of these metals is almost certainly the circumstellar disc of dusty and gaseous debris from a tidally-disrupted planetesimal, accreting at a rate of 1.6E10 gs^-1. Studying the chemical abundances of the accreted material demonstrates that the planetesimal had a composition similar to the Earth, dominated by rocky silicates and metallic iron, with a low water content. The mass of metals within the convection zone of the white dwarf corresponds to an asteroid of at least ~130-170 km in diameter, although the presence of ongoing accretion from the debris disc implies that the planetesimal was probably larger than this. While a previous abundance study of the accreted material has shown an anomalously high mass fraction of carbon (15 percent) compared to the bulk Earth, our independent analysis results in a carbon abundance of just 2.5 percent. Enhanced abundances of core material (Fe, Ni) suggest that the accreted object may have lost a portion of its mantle, possibly due to stellar wind stripping in the asymptotic giant branch. Time-series spectroscopy reveals variable emission from the orbiting gaseous disc, demonstrating that the evolved planetary system at SDSS J0845+2257 is dynamically active.

The Composition Of A Disrupted Extrasolar Planetesimal At SDSS J0845+2257 (Ton 345) [Replacement]

We present a detailed study of the metal-polluted DB white dwarf SDSS J0845+2257 (Ton 345). Using high-resolution HST/COS and VLT spectroscopy, we have detected hydrogen and eleven metals in the atmosphere of the white dwarf. The origin of these metals is almost certainly the circumstellar disc of dusty and gaseous debris from a tidally-disrupted planetesimal, accreting at a rate of 1.6E10 gs^-1. Studying the chemical abundances of the accreted material demonstrates that the planetesimal had a composition similar to the Earth, dominated by rocky silicates and metallic iron, with a low water content. The mass of metals within the convection zone of the white dwarf corresponds to an asteroid of at least ~130-170 km in diameter, although the presence of ongoing accretion from the debris disc implies that the planetesimal was probably larger than this. While a previous abundance study of the accreted material has shown an anomalously high mass fraction of carbon (15 percent) compared to the bulk Earth, our independent analysis results in a carbon abundance of just 2.5 percent. Enhanced abundances of core material (Fe, Ni) suggest that the accreted object may have lost a portion of its mantle, possibly due to stellar wind stripping in the asymptotic giant branch. Time-series spectroscopy reveals variable emission from the orbiting gaseous disc, demonstrating that the evolved planetary system at SDSS J0845+2257 is dynamically active.

The Expanding Fireball of Nova Delphini 2013

A classical nova occurs when material accreting onto the surface of a white dwarf in a close binary system ignites in a thermonuclear runaway. Complex structures observed in the ejecta at late stages could result from interactions with the companion during the common envelope phase. Alternatively, the explosion could be intrinsically bipolar, resulting from a localized ignition on the surface of the white dwarf or as a consequence of rotational distortion. Studying the structure of novae during the earliest phases is challenging because of the high spatial resolution needed to measure their small sizes. Here we report near-infrared interferometric measurements of the angular size of Nova Delphini 2013, starting from one day after the explosion and continuing with extensive time coverage during the first 43 days. Changes in the apparent expansion rate can be explained by an explosion model consisting of an optically thick core surrounded by a diffuse envelope. The optical depth of the ejected material changes as it expands. We detect an ellipticity in the light distribution, suggesting a prolate or bipolar structure that develops as early as the second day. Combining the angular expansion rate with radial velocity measurements, we derive a geometric distance to the nova of 4.54 +/- 0.59 kpc from the Sun.

Dark Matter Triggers of Supernovae

The transit of primordial black holes through a white dwarf causes localized heating around the trajectory of the black hole through dynamical friction. For sufficiently massive black holes, this heat can initiate runaway thermonuclear fusion causing the white dwarf to explode as a supernova. The shape of the observed distribution of white dwarfs with masses up to $1.25 M_{\odot}$ rules out primordial black holes with masses $\sim 10^{19}$ gm – $10^{20}$ gm as a dominant constituent of the local dark matter density. Black holes with masses as large as $10^{24}$ gm will be excluded if recent observations by the NuStar collaboration of a population of white dwarfs near the galactic center are confirmed. Black holes in the mass range $10^{20}$ gm – $10^{22}$ gm are also constrained by the observed supernova rate, though these bounds are subject to astrophysical uncertainties. These bounds can be further strengthened through measurements of white dwarf binaries in gravitational wave observatories. The mechanism proposed in this paper can constrain a variety of other dark matter scenarios such as Q balls, annihilation/collision of large composite states of dark matter and models of dark matter where the accretion of dark matter leads to the formation of compact cores within the star. White dwarfs, with their astronomical lifetimes and sizes, can thus act as large space-time volume detectors enabling a unique probe of the properties of dark matter, especially of dark matter candidates that have low number density. This mechanism also raises the intriguing possibility that a class of supernova may be triggered through rare events induced by dark matter rather than the conventional mechanism of accreting white dwarfs that explode upon reaching the Chandrasekhar mass.

Dark Matter Triggers of Supernovae [Cross-Listing]

The transit of primordial black holes through a white dwarf causes localized heating around the trajectory of the black hole through dynamical friction. For sufficiently massive black holes, this heat can initiate runaway thermonuclear fusion causing the white dwarf to explode as a supernova. The shape of the observed distribution of white dwarfs with masses up to $1.25 M_{\odot}$ rules out primordial black holes with masses $\sim 10^{19}$ gm – $10^{20}$ gm as a dominant constituent of the local dark matter density. Black holes with masses as large as $10^{24}$ gm will be excluded if recent observations by the NuStar collaboration of a population of white dwarfs near the galactic center are confirmed. Black holes in the mass range $10^{20}$ gm – $10^{22}$ gm are also constrained by the observed supernova rate, though these bounds are subject to astrophysical uncertainties. These bounds can be further strengthened through measurements of white dwarf binaries in gravitational wave observatories. The mechanism proposed in this paper can constrain a variety of other dark matter scenarios such as Q balls, annihilation/collision of large composite states of dark matter and models of dark matter where the accretion of dark matter leads to the formation of compact cores within the star. White dwarfs, with their astronomical lifetimes and sizes, can thus act as large space-time volume detectors enabling a unique probe of the properties of dark matter, especially of dark matter candidates that have low number density. This mechanism also raises the intriguing possibility that a class of supernova may be triggered through rare events induced by dark matter rather than the conventional mechanism of accreting white dwarfs that explode upon reaching the Chandrasekhar mass.

Dark Matter Triggers of Supernovae [Cross-Listing]

The transit of primordial black holes through a white dwarf causes localized heating around the trajectory of the black hole through dynamical friction. For sufficiently massive black holes, this heat can initiate runaway thermonuclear fusion causing the white dwarf to explode as a supernova. The shape of the observed distribution of white dwarfs with masses up to $1.25 M_{\odot}$ rules out primordial black holes with masses $\sim 10^{19}$ gm – $10^{20}$ gm as a dominant constituent of the local dark matter density. Black holes with masses as large as $10^{24}$ gm will be excluded if recent observations by the NuStar collaboration of a population of white dwarfs near the galactic center are confirmed. Black holes in the mass range $10^{20}$ gm – $10^{22}$ gm are also constrained by the observed supernova rate, though these bounds are subject to astrophysical uncertainties. These bounds can be further strengthened through measurements of white dwarf binaries in gravitational wave observatories. The mechanism proposed in this paper can constrain a variety of other dark matter scenarios such as Q balls, annihilation/collision of large composite states of dark matter and models of dark matter where the accretion of dark matter leads to the formation of compact cores within the star. White dwarfs, with their astronomical lifetimes and sizes, can thus act as large space-time volume detectors enabling a unique probe of the properties of dark matter, especially of dark matter candidates that have low number density. This mechanism also raises the intriguing possibility that a class of supernova may be triggered through rare events induced by dark matter rather than the conventional mechanism of accreting white dwarfs that explode upon reaching the Chandrasekhar mass.

Laboratory Measurements of White Dwarf Photospheric Spectral Lines: H$\beta$

We spectroscopically measure multiple hydrogen Balmer line profiles from laboratory plasmas to investigate the theoretical line profiles used in white dwarf atmosphere models. X-ray radiation produced at the Z Pulsed Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratories initiates plasma formation in a hydrogen-filled gas cell, replicating white dwarf photospheric conditions. Here we present time-resolved measurements of H$\beta$ and fit this line using different theoretical line profiles to diagnose electron density, $n_{\rm e}$, and $n=2$ level population, $n_2$. Aided by synthetic tests, we characterize the validity of our diagnostic method for this experimental platform. During a single experiment, we infer a continuous range of electron densities increasing from $n_{\rm e}\sim4$ to $\sim30\times10^{16}\,$cm$^{-3}$ throughout a 120-ns evolution of our plasma. Also, we observe $n_2$ to be initially elevated with respect to local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE); it then equilibrates within $\sim55\,$ns to become consistent with LTE. This supports our electron-temperature determination of $T_{\rm e}\sim1.3\,$eV ($\sim15,000\,$K) after this time. At $n_{\rm e}\gtrsim10^{17}\,$cm$^{-3}$, we find that computer-simulation-based line-profile calculations provide better fits (lower reduced $\chi^2$) than the line profiles currently used in the white dwarf astronomy community. The inferred conditions, however, are in good quantitative agreement. This work establishes an experimental foundation for the future investigation of relative shapes and strengths between different hydrogen Balmer lines.

Refining our knowledge of the white dwarf mass-radius relation

The presence of a white dwarf in a resolved binary system, such as Sirius, provides an opportunity to combine dynamical information about the masses, from astrometry and spectroscopy, with a gravitational red-shift measurement and spectrophotometry of the white dwarf atmosphere to provide a test of theoretical mass-radius relations of unprecedented accuracy. We demonstrated this with the first Balmer line spectrum of Sirius B to be obtained free of contamination from the primary, with STIS on HST. However, we also found an unexplained discrepancy between the spectroscopic and gravitational red-shift mass determinations. With the recovery of STIS, we have been able to revisit our observations of Sirius B with an improved observation strategy designed to reduce systematic errors on the gravitational red-shift measurement. We provide a preliminary report on the refined precision of the Sirius B mass-radius measurements and the extension of this technique to a larger sample of white dwarfs in resolved binaries. Together these data can provide accurate mass and radius determinations capable of testing the theoretical mass-radius relation and distinguishing between possible structural models.

A Young White Dwarf with an Infrared Excess

Using observations of Spitzer/IRAC, we report the serendipitous discovery of excess infrared emission from a single white dwarf PG 0010+280. At a temperature of 27,220 K and a cooling age of 16 Myr, it is the hottest and youngest white dwarf to display an excess at 3-8 $\mu$m. The infrared excess can be fit by either an opaque dust disk within the tidal radius of the white dwarf or a 1300 K blackbody, possibly from an irradiated substellar object or a re-heated giant planet. PG 0010+280 has two unique properties that are different from white dwarfs with a dust disk: (i) relatively low emission at 8 $\mu$m and (ii) non-detection of heavy elements in its atmosphere from high-resolution spectroscopic observations with Keck/HIRES. The origin of the infrared excess remains unclear.

Insights into internal effects of common-envelope evolution using the extended Kepler mission

We present an analysis of the binary and physical parameters of a unique pulsating white dwarf with a main-sequence companion, SDSS J1136+0409, observed for more than 77 d during the first pointing of the extended Kepler mission: K2 Campaign 1. Using new ground-based spectroscopy, we show that this post-common-envelope binary has an orbital period of 6.89760103(60) hr, which is also seen in the photometry as a result of Doppler beaming and ellipsoidal variations of the secondary. We spectroscopically refine the temperature of the white dwarf to 12330(260) K and its mass to 0.601(36) Msun. We detect seven independent pulsation modes in the K2 light curve. A preliminary asteroseismic solution is in reasonable agreement with the spectroscopic atmospheric parameters. Three of the pulsation modes are clearly rotationally split multiplets, which we use to demonstrate that the white dwarf is not synchronously rotating with the orbital period but has a rotation period of 2.49(53) hr. This is faster than any known isolated white dwarf, but slower than almost all white dwarfs measured in non-magnetic cataclysmic variables, the likely future state of this binary.

Einstein@Home Discovery of a PALFA Millisecond Pulsar in an Eccentric Binary Orbit [Cross-Listing]

We report the discovery of the millisecond pulsar (MSP) PSR J1950+2414 ($P=4.3$ ms) in a binary system with an eccentric ($e=0.08$) orbit in Pulsar ALFA survey observations with the Arecibo telescope. Its companion star has a median mass of 0.3 $M_\odot$ and is most likely a white dwarf. Fully recycled MSPs like this one are thought to be old neutron stars spun-up by mass transfer from a companion star. This process should circularize the orbit, as is observed for the vast majority of binary MSPs, which predominantly have orbital eccentricities $e < 0.001$. However, four recently discovered binary MSPs have orbits with larger eccentricities ($0.03 < e < 0.4$); PSR J1950+2414 is only the fifth such system to be discovered. The upper limits for the the intrinsic spin period derivative and inferred surface magnetic field strength are comparable to those of the general MSP population. The large eccentricities of these systems are not compatible with the predictions of the standard recycling scenario: something unusual happened during their formation or evolution. Some of the proposed scenarios are a) the initial evolution of the pulsar in a triple system which became dynamically unstable, b) origin in an exchange encounter in an environment with high stellar density, like that of the core of a globular cluster, c) rotationally delayed accretion-induced collapse of a super-Chandrasekhar white dwarf and d) dynamical interaction of the binary with a circumbinary disk. We compare the properties of all five known eccentric MSPs with the predictions of these formation channels. We also outline how future measurements of the mass and proper motion of PSR J1950+2414 might allow us to firmly exclude some of the proposed formation scenarios.

Einstein@Home Discovery of a PALFA Millisecond Pulsar in an Eccentric Binary Orbit

We report the discovery of the millisecond pulsar (MSP) PSR J1950+2414 ($P=4.3$ ms) in a binary system with an eccentric ($e=0.08$) orbit in Pulsar ALFA survey observations with the Arecibo telescope. Its companion star has a median mass of 0.3 $M_\odot$ and is most likely a white dwarf. Fully recycled MSPs like this one are thought to be old neutron stars spun-up by mass transfer from a companion star. This process should circularize the orbit, as is observed for the vast majority of binary MSPs, which predominantly have orbital eccentricities $e < 0.001$. However, four recently discovered binary MSPs have orbits with larger eccentricities ($0.03 < e < 0.4$); PSR J1950+2414 is only the fifth such system to be discovered. The upper limits for the the intrinsic spin period derivative and inferred surface magnetic field strength are comparable to those of the general MSP population. The large eccentricities of these systems are not compatible with the predictions of the standard recycling scenario: something unusual happened during their formation or evolution. Some of the proposed scenarios are a) the initial evolution of the pulsar in a triple system which became dynamically unstable, b) origin in an exchange encounter in an environment with high stellar density, like that of the core of a globular cluster, c) rotationally delayed accretion-induced collapse of a super-Chandrasekhar white dwarf and d) dynamical interaction of the binary with a circumbinary disk. We compare the properties of all five known eccentric MSPs with the predictions of these formation channels. We also outline how future measurements of the mass and proper motion of PSR J1950+2414 might allow us to firmly exclude some of the proposed formation scenarios.

Einstein@Home Discovery of a PALFA Millisecond Pulsar in an Eccentric Binary Orbit [Replacement]

We report the discovery of the millisecond pulsar (MSP) PSR J1950+2414 ($P=4.3$ ms) in a binary system with an eccentric ($e=0.08$) 22-day orbit in Pulsar ALFA survey observations with the Arecibo telescope. Its companion star has a median mass of 0.3 $M_\odot$ and is most likely a white dwarf. Fully recycled MSPs like this one are thought to be old neutron stars spun-up by mass transfer from a companion star. This process should circularize the orbit, as is observed for the vast majority of binary MSPs, which predominantly have orbital eccentricities $e < 0.001$. However, four recently discovered binary MSPs have orbits with $0.027 < e < 0.44$; PSR J1950+2414 is the fifth such system to be discovered. The upper limits for its intrinsic spin period derivative and inferred surface magnetic field strength are comparable to those of the general MSP population. The large eccentricities are incompatible with the predictions of the standard recycling scenario: something unusual happened during their evolution. Proposed scenarios are a) initial evolution of the pulsar in a triple system which became dynamically unstable, b) origin in an exchange encounter in an environment with high stellar density, c) rotationally delayed accretion-induced collapse of a super-Chandrasekhar white dwarf, and d) dynamical interaction of the binary with a circumbinary disk. We compare the properties of all five known eccentric MSPs with the predictions of these formation channels. Future measurements of the masses and proper motion might allow us to firmly exclude some of the proposed formation scenarios.

Einstein@Home Discovery of a PALFA Millisecond Pulsar in an Eccentric Binary Orbit [Replacement]

We report the discovery of the millisecond pulsar (MSP) PSR J1950+2414 ($P=4.3$ ms) in a binary system with an eccentric ($e=0.08$) 22-day orbit in Pulsar ALFA survey observations with the Arecibo telescope. Its companion star has a median mass of 0.3 $M_\odot$ and is most likely a white dwarf. Fully recycled MSPs like this one are thought to be old neutron stars spun-up by mass transfer from a companion star. This process should circularize the orbit, as is observed for the vast majority of binary MSPs, which predominantly have orbital eccentricities $e < 0.001$. However, four recently discovered binary MSPs have orbits with $0.027 < e < 0.44$; PSR J1950+2414 is the fifth such system to be discovered. The upper limits for its intrinsic spin period derivative and inferred surface magnetic field strength are comparable to those of the general MSP population. The large eccentricities are incompatible with the predictions of the standard recycling scenario: something unusual happened during their evolution. Proposed scenarios are a) initial evolution of the pulsar in a triple system which became dynamically unstable, b) origin in an exchange encounter in an environment with high stellar density, c) rotationally delayed accretion-induced collapse of a super-Chandrasekhar white dwarf, and d) dynamical interaction of the binary with a circumbinary disk. We compare the properties of all five known eccentric MSPs with the predictions of these formation channels. Future measurements of the masses and proper motion might allow us to firmly exclude some of the proposed formation scenarios.

Stellar laboratories. V. The Xe VI ultraviolet spectrum and the xenon abundance in the hot DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289

For the spectral analysis of high-resolution and high-signal-to-noise (S/N) spectra of hot stars, state-of-the-art non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) model atmospheres are mandatory. These are strongly dependent on the reliability of the atomic data that is used for their calculation. Reliable Xe VI oscillator strengths are used to identify Xe lines in the ultraviolet spectrum of the DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289 and to determine its photospheric Xe abundance. Based on a recently measured Xe VI laboratory line spectrum, newly calculated oscillator strengths were published. These were used to consider their radiative and collisional bound-bound transitions in detail in our NLTE stellar-atmosphere models for the analysis of Xe VI lines exhibited in high-resolution and high-S/N UV observations of RE0503-289. We identified three hitherto unknown Xe VI lines in the ultraviolet spectrum of RE0503-289 and confirmed its previously measured photospheric Xe abundance (-4.2 +/- 0.6 by mass). Reliable measurements and calculations of atomic data are a pre-requisite for stellar-atmosphere modeling. Observed Xe VI line profiles in the ultraviolet spectrum of the white dwarf RE0503-289 were well reproduced with the newly calculated Xe VI oscillator strengths.

Stellar laboratories. V. The Xe VI ultraviolet spectrum and the xenon abundance in the hot DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289 [Replacement]

For the spectral analysis of spectra of hot stars with a high resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), advanced non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) model atmospheres are mandatory. These are strongly dependent on the reliability of the atomic data that are used for their calculation. Reliable Xe VI oscillator strengths are used to identify Xe lines in the ultraviolet spectrum of the DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289 and to determine its photospheric Xe abundance. We publish newly calculated oscillator strengths that are based on a recently measured Xe VI laboratory line spectrum. These strengths were used to consider their radiative and collisional bound-bound transitions in detail in our NLTE stellar-atmosphere models to analyze Xe VI lines exhibited in high-resolution and high S/N UV observations of RE0503-289. We identify three hitherto unknown Xe VI lines in the ultraviolet spectrum of RE0503-289 and confirm the previously measured photospheric Xe abundance of this white dwarf (log Xe = -4.2 +/- 0.6). Reliable measurements and calculations of atomic data are prerequisite for stellar-atmosphere modeling. Observed Xe VI line profiles in the ultraviolet spectrum of the white dwarf RE0503-289 were well reproduced with the newly calculated Xe VI oscillator strengths.

Magnetized Moving Mesh Merger of a Carbon-Oxygen White Dwarf Binary

White dwarf binary mergers are possible progenitors to a number of unusual stars and transient phenomena, including type Ia supernovae. To date, simulations of mergers have not included magnetic fields, even though they are believed to play a significant role in the evolution of the merger remnant. We simulated a 0.625 – 0.65 $M_{\odot}$ carbon-oxygen white dwarf binary merger in the magnetohydrodynamic moving mesh code Arepo. Each white dwarf was given an initial dipole field with a surface value of $\sim10^3$ G. As in simulations of merging double neutron star binaries, we find exponential field growth within Kelvin-Helmholtz instability-generated vortices during the coalescence of the two stars. The final field has complex geometry, and a strength $>10^{10}$ G at the center of the merger remnant. Its energy is $\sim2\times10^{47}$ ergs, $\sim0.2$% of the remnant’s total energy. The strong field likely influences further evolution of the merger remnant by providing a mechanism for angular momentum transfer and additional heating, potentially helping to ignite carbon fusion.

Magnetized Moving Mesh Merger of a Carbon-Oxygen White Dwarf Binary [Replacement]

White dwarf (WD) binary mergers are possible progenitors to a number of unusual stars and transient phenomena, including type Ia supernovae. To date, simulations of mergers have not included magnetic fields, even though they are believed to play a significant role in the evolution of the merger remnant. We simulated a 0.625 – 0.65 $M_{\odot}$ carbon-oxygen WD binary merger in the magnetohydrodynamic moving mesh code Arepo. Each WD was given an initial dipole field with a surface value of $\sim10^3$ G. As in simulations of merging double neutron star binaries, we find exponential field growth within Kelvin-Helmholtz instability-generated vortices during the coalescence of the two stars. The final field has complex geometry, and a strength $>10^{10}$ G at the center of the merger remnant. Its energy is $\sim2\times10^{47}$ ergs, $\sim0.2$% of the remnant’s total energy. The strong field likely influences further evolution of the merger remnant by providing a mechanism for angular momentum transfer and additional heating, potentially helping to ignite carbon fusion.

Likely detection of water-rich asteroid debris in a metal-polluted white dwarf

The cool white dwarf SDSS J124231.07+522626.6 exhibits photospheric absorption lines of 8 distinct heavy elements in medium resolution optical spectra, notably including oxygen. The Teff = 13000 K atmosphere is helium-dominated, but the convection zone contains significant amounts of hydrogen and oxygen. The four most common rock-forming elements (O, Mg, Si, and Fe) account for almost all the accreted mass, totalling at least 1.2e+24 g, similar to the mass of Ceres. The time-averaged accretion rate is 2e+10 g/s, one of the highest rates inferred among all known metal-polluted white dwarfs. We note a large oxygen excess, with respect to the most common metal oxides, suggesting that the white dwarf accreted planetary debris with a water content of ~38 per cent by mass. This star, together with GD 61, GD 16, and GD 362, form a small group of outliers from the known population of evolved planetary systems accreting predominantly dry, rocky debris. This result strengthens the hypothesis that, integrated over the cooling ages of white dwarfs, accretion of water-rich debris from disrupted planetesimals may significantly contribute to the build-up of trace hydrogen observed in a large fraction of helium-dominated white dwarf atmospheres.

The first pre-supersoft X-ray binary

We report the discovery of an extremely close white dwarf plus F dwarf main-sequence star in a 12 hour binary identified by combining data from the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) survey and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) survey. A combination of spectral energy distribution fitting and optical and Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet spectroscopy allowed us to place fairly precise constraints on the physical parameters of the binary. The system, TYC 6760-497-1, consists of a hot Teff~21,500K, M~0.65Ms white dwarf and an F8 star (M~1.23Ms, R~1.35Rs) seen at a low inclination (i~35 deg). The system is likely the descendent of a binary that contained the F star and a ~2Ms A-type star that filled its Roche-lobe on the second asymptotic giant branch, initiating a common envelope phase. The F star is extremely close to Roche-lobe filling and there is likely to be a short phase of thermal timescale mass-transfer onto the white dwarf. During this phase it will grow in mass by up to 20 per cent, until the mass ratio reaches close to unity, at which point it will appear as a standard cataclysmic variable star. Therefore, TYC 6760-497-1 is the first known progenitor of a super-soft source system, but will not undergo a supernova Ia explosion. Once an accurate distance to the system is determined by Gaia, we will be able to place very tight constraints on the stellar and binary parameters.

The first pre-supersoft X-ray binary [Replacement]

We report the discovery of an extremely close white dwarf plus F dwarf main-sequence star in a 12 hour binary identified by combining data from the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) survey and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) survey. A combination of spectral energy distribution fitting and optical and Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet spectroscopy allowed us to place fairly precise constraints on the physical parameters of the binary. The system, TYC 6760-497-1, consists of a hot Teff~20,000K, M~0.6Ms white dwarf and an F8 star (M~1.23Ms, R~1.3Rs) seen at a low inclination (i~37 deg). The system is likely the descendent of a binary that contained the F star and a ~2Ms A-type star that filled its Roche-lobe on the thermally pulsating asymptotic giant branch, initiating a common envelope phase. The F star is extremely close to Roche-lobe filling and there is likely to be a short phase of thermal timescale mass-transfer onto the white dwarf during which stable hydrogen burning occurs. During this phase it will grow in mass by up to 20 per cent, until the mass ratio reaches close to unity, at which point it will appear as a standard cataclysmic variable star. Therefore, TYC 6760-497-1 is the first known progenitor of a super-soft source system, but will not undergo a supernova Ia explosion. Once an accurate distance to the system is determined by Gaia, we will be able to place very tight constraints on the stellar and binary parameters.

Recombination energy in double white dwarf formation

In this Letter we investigate the role of recombination energy during a common envelope event. We confirm that taking this energy into account helps to avoid the formation of the circumbinary envelope commonly found in previous studies. For the first time, we can model a complete common envelope event, with a clean compact double white dwarf binary system formed at the end. The resulting binary orbit is almost perfectly circular. In addition to considering recombination energy, we also show that between 1/4 and 1/2 of the released orbital energy is taken away by the ejected material. We apply this new method to the case of the double-white dwarf system WD 1101+364, and we find that the progenitor system at the start of the common envelope event consisted of a $\sim1.5M_\odot$ red giant star in a $\sim 30$ day orbit with a white dwarf companion.

Testing common envelopes on double white dwarf binaries

The formation of a double white dwarf binary likely involves a common envelope (CE) event between a red giant and a white dwarf (WD) during the most recent episode of Roche lobe overflow mass transfer. We study the role of recombination energy with hydrodynamic simulations of such stellar interactions. We find that the recombination energy helps to expel the common envelope entirely, while if recombination energy is not taken into account, a significant fraction of the common envelope remains bound. We apply our numerical methods to constrain the progenitor system for WD 1101+364 — a double WD binary that has well-measured mass ratio of $q=0.87\pm0.03$ and an orbital period of 0.145 days. Our best-fit progenitor for the pre-common envelope donor is a 1.5 $M_\odot$ red giant.

Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of the core-degenerate scenario for Type Ia supernovae [Replacement]

The core-degenerate (CD) scenario for type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) involves the merger of the hot core of an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star and a white dwarf, and might contribute a non-negligible fraction of all thermonuclear supernovae. Despite its potential interest, very few studies, and based on only crude simplifications, have been devoted to investigate this possible scenario, compared with the large efforts invested to study some other scenarios. Here we perform the first three-dimensional simulations of the merger phase, and find that this process can lead to the formation of a massive white dwarf, as required by this scenario. We consider two situations, according to the mass of the circumbinary disk formed around the system during the final stages of the common envelope phase. If the disk is massive enough, the stars merge on a highly eccentric orbit. Otherwise, the merger occurs after the circumbinary disk has been ejected and gravitational wave radiation has brought the stars close to the Roche lobe radius on a nearly circular orbit. Not surprisingly, the overall characteristics of the merger remnants are similar to those found for the double-degenerate (DD) scenario, independently of the very different core temperature and of the orbits of the merging stars. They consist of a central massive white dwarf, surrounded by a hot, rapidly rotating corona and a thick debris region.

Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations of the core-degenerate scenario for Type Ia supernovae

The core-degenerate (CD) scenario for type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) involves the merger of the hot core of an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star and a white dwarf, and might contribute a non-negligible fraction of all thermonuclear supernovae. Despite its potential interest, very few studies, and based on only crude simplifications, have been devoted to investigate this possible scenario, compared with the large efforts invested to study some other scenarios. Here we perform the first three-dimensional simulations of the merger phase, and find that this process can lead to the formation of a massive white dwarf, as required by this scenario. We consider two situations, according to the mass of the circumbinary disk formed around the system during the final stages of the common envelope phase. If the disk is massive enough, the stars merge on a highly eccentric orbit. Otherwise, the merger occurs after the circumbinary disk has been ejected and gravitational wave radiation has brought the stars close to the Roche lobe radius on a nearly circular orbit. Not surprisingly, the overall characteristics of the merger remnants are similar to those found for the double-degenerate (DD) scenario, independently of the very different core temperature and of the orbits of the merging stars. They consist of a central massive white dwarf, surrounded by a hot, rapidly rotating corona and a thick debris region.

Fourteen new eclipsing white dwarf plus main-sequence binaries from the SDSS and Catalina surveys

We report on the search for new eclipsing white dwarf plus main-sequence (WDMS) binaries in the light curves of the Catalina surveys. We use a colour selected list of almost 2000 candidate WDMS systems from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, specifically designed to identify WDMS systems with cool white dwarfs and/or early M type main-sequence stars. We identify a total of 17 eclipsing systems, 14 of which are new discoveries. We also find 3 candidate eclipsing systems, 2 main-sequence eclipsing binaries and 22 non-eclipsing close binaries. Our newly discovered systems generally have optical fluxes dominated by the main-sequence components, which have earlier spectral types than the majority of previously discovered eclipsing systems. We find a large number of ellipsoidally variable binaries with similar periods, near 4 hours, and spectral types M2–3, which are very close to Roche-lobe filling. We also find that the fraction of eclipsing systems is lower than found in previous studies and likely reflects a lower close binary fraction among WDMS binaries with early M-type main-sequence stars due to their enhanced angular momentum loss compared to fully convective late M type stars, hence causing them to become cataclysmic variables quicker and disappear from the WDMS sample. Our systems bring the total number of known detached, eclipsing WDMS binaries to 71.

High-speed Photometric Observations of ZZ Ceti White Dwarf Candidates

We present high-speed photometric observations of ZZ Ceti white dwarf candidates drawn from the spectroscopic survey of bright DA stars from the Villanova White Dwarf Catalog by Gianninas et al., and from the recent spectroscopic survey of white dwarfs within 40 parsecs of the Sun by Limoges et al. We report the discovery of six new ZZ Ceti pulsators from these surveys, and several photometrically constant DA white dwarfs, which we then use to refine the location of the ZZ Ceti instability strip.

White dwarf evolutionary sequences for low-metallicity progenitors: The impact of third dredge-up

We present new white dwarf evolutionary sequences for low-metallicity progenitors. White dwarf sequences have been derived from full evolutionary calculations that take into account the entire history of progenitor stars, including the thermally-pulsing and the post-asymptotic giant branch phases. We show that for progenitor metallicities in the range 0.00003–0.001, and in the absence of carbon enrichment due to the occurrence of a third dredge-up episode, the resulting H envelope of the low-mass white dwarfs is thick enough to make stable H burning the most important energy source even at low luminosities. This has a significant impact on white dwarf cooling times. This result is independent of the adopted mass-loss rate during the thermally-pulsing and post-AGB phases, and the planetary nebulae stage. We conclude that in the absence of third dredge-up episodes, a significant part of the evolution of low-mass white dwarfs resulting from low-metallicity progenitors is dominated by stable H burning. Our study opens the possibility of using the observed white dwarf luminosity function of low-metallicity globular clusters to constrain the efficiency of third dredge up episodes during the thermally-pulsing AGB phase of low-metallicity progenitors.

The Accretion of Solar Material onto White Dwarfs: No Mixing with Core Material Implies that the Mass of the White Dwarf is Increasing

Cataclysmic Variables (CVs) are close binary star systems with one component an accreting white dwarf (WD) and the other a larger cooler star that fills its Roche Lobe. One consequence of the WDs accreting material, is the possibility that they are growing in mass and will eventually reach the Chandrasekhar Limit. This evolution could result in a Supernova Ia (SN Ia) explosion and is designated the Single Degenerate Progenitor (SD) scenario. One problem with the single degenerate scenario is that it is generally assumed that the accreting material mixes with WD core material at some time during the accretion phase of evolution and, since the typical WD has a carbon-oxygen (CO) core, the mixing results in large amounts of carbon and oxygen being brought up into the accreted layers. The presence of enriched carbon causes enhanced nuclear fusion and a Classical Nova (CN)explosion. Thus, the WD in a Classical Nova system is decreasing in mass and cannot be a SN Ia progenitor. In new calculations reported here, the consequences to the WD of no mixing of accreted material with core material have been investigated and the material involved in the explosion has only a Solar composition. I find that once sufficient material has been accreted, nuclear burning continues until a thermonuclear runaway (TNR) occurs and the WD either ejects a small amount of material or its radius grows to about $10^{12}$ cm and the calculations are stopped. In all cases where mass ejection occurs, the mass of the ejecta is far less than the mass of the accreted material. Therefore, all the WDs are growing in mass. (Abridged)

Discovery of Two New Thermally Bloated Low-Mass White Dwarfs Among the Kepler Binaries

We report the discovery of two new low-mass, thermally bloated, hot white dwarfs among the Kepler sample of eclipsing binaries. These are KIC 9164561 and KIC 10727668 with orbital periods of 1.2670 and 2.3058 days, respectively. The current primary in both systems is an A star of about 2 Msun. This brings the number of similar binaries among the Kepler sample to six, and the two new systems have the shortest orbital periods among them. The white dwarf in KIC 9164561 has the largest thermal bloating, compared to its cold degenerate radius, of about a factor of 14. We utilize RV measurements of the A star in KIC 9164561 to determine the white dwarf mass rather accurately: 0.197 +/- 0.005 Msun. The mass of the white dwarf in KIC 10727668 is based on the Doppler boosting signal in the Kepler photometry, and is less accurately determined to be 0.266 +/- 0.035 Msun. Based on the inferred radii and effective temperatures of these two white dwarfs we are able to make an independent theoretical estimate of their masses to within ~0.01 Msun based on evolutionary models of their cooling history after they lose their hydrogen-rich envelopes. We also present evidence that there is a third body in the KIC 9164561 system with an orbital period of 8-14 years.

Discovery of Two New Thermally Bloated Low-Mass White Dwarfs Among the Kepler Binaries [Replacement]

We report the discovery of two new low-mass, thermally bloated, hot white dwarfs among the Kepler sample of eclipsing binaries. These are KIC 9164561 and KIC 10727668 with orbital periods of 1.2670 and 2.3058 days, respectively. The current primary in both systems is an A star of about 2 Msun. This brings the number of similar binaries among the Kepler sample to six, and the two new systems have the shortest orbital periods among them. The white dwarf in KIC 9164561 has the largest thermal bloating, compared to its cold degenerate radius, of about a factor of 14. We utilize RV measurements of the A star in KIC 9164561 to determine the white dwarf mass rather accurately: 0.197 +/- 0.005 Msun. The mass of the white dwarf in KIC 10727668 is based on the Doppler boosting signal in the Kepler photometry, and is less accurately determined to be 0.266 +/- 0.035 Msun. Based on the inferred radii and effective temperatures of these two white dwarfs we are able to make an independent theoretical estimate of their masses to within ~0.01 Msun based on evolutionary models of their cooling history after they lose their hydrogen-rich envelopes. We also present evidence that there is a third body in the KIC 9164561 system with an orbital period of 8-14 years.

Stellar laboratories IV. New Ga IV, Ga V, and Ga VI oscillator strengths and the gallium abundance in the hot white dwarfs G191-B2B and RE0503-289

For the spectral analysis of high-resolution and high-signal-to-noise (S/N) spectra of hot stars, advanced non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) model atmospheres are mandatory. These atmospheres are strongly dependent on the reliability of the atomic data that are used to calculate them. Reliable Ga IV – VI oscillator strengths are used to identify Ga lines in the spectra of the DA-type white dwarf G191-B2B and the DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289 and to determine their photospheric Ga abundances. We newly calculated Ga IV – VI oscillator strengths to consider their radiative and collisional bound-bound transitions in detail in our NLTE stellar-atmosphere models for analyzing of Ga lines exhibited in high-resolution and high-S/N UV observations of G191-B2B and RE0503-289. We unambiguously detected 20 isolated and 6 blended (with lines of other species) Ga V lines in the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) spectrum of RE0503-289. The identification of Ga IV and Ga VI lines is uncertain because they are weak and partly blended by other lines. The determined Ga abundance is 3.5 +/- 0.5 x 10**-5 (mass fraction, about 625 times solar). The Ga IV / GA V ionization equilibrium, which is a very sensitive indicator for the effective temperature, is well reproduced in RE0503-289. We identified the strongest Ga IV lines (1258.801, 1338.129 A) in the HST/STIS (Hubble Space Telescope / Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph) spectrum of G191-B2B and measured a Ga abundance of 2.0 +/- 0.5 x 10**-6 (about 22 times solar). Reliable measurements and calculations of atomic data are a prerequisite for stellar-atmosphere modeling. Observed Ga IV – V line profiles in two white dwarf (G191-B2B and RE0503-289) ultraviolet spectra were well reproduced with our newly calculated oscillator strengths. For the first time, this allowed us to determine the photospheric Ga abundance in white dwarfs.

Spiral Disk Instability Can Drive Thermonuclear Explosions in Binary White Dwarf Mergers [Replacement]

Thermonuclear, or Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), originate from the explosion of carbon–oxygen white dwarfs, and serve as standardizable cosmological candles. However, despite their importance, the nature of the progenitor systems that give rise to SNe Ia has not been hitherto elucidated. Observational evidence favors the double-degenerate channel in which merging white dwarf binaries lead to SNe Ia. Furthermore, significant discrepancies exist between observations and theory, and to date, there has been no self-consistent merger model that yields a SNe Ia. Here we show that a spiral mode instability in the accretion disk formed during a binary white dwarf merger leads to a detonation on a dynamical timescale. This mechanism sheds light on how white dwarf mergers may frequently yield SNe Ia.

Spiral Disk Instability Can Drive Thermonuclear Explosions in Binary White Dwarf Mergers

Thermonuclear, or Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), originate from the explosion of carbon-oxygen white dwarfs, and serve as standardizable cosmological candles. However, despite their importance, the nature of the progenitor systems which give rise to SNe Ia has not been hitherto elucidated. Observational evidence favors the double-degenerate channel, in which merging white dwarf binaries lead to SNe Ia. Furthermore, significant discrepancies exist between observations and theory, and to date, there has been no self-consistent merger model which yields a SNe Ia. Here we show that a spiral mode instability in the accretion disk formed during a binary white dwarf merger leads to a detonation on a dynamical timescale. This mechanism sheds light on how white dwarf mergers may frequently yield SNe Ia.

HST+COS spectra of the double white dwarf CSS 41177 place the secondary inside the pulsational instability strip

We present Hubble Space Telescope + Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (HST+COS) data of the eclipsing double white dwarf binary CSS 41177. Due to the temperature difference between the two white dwarfs, the HST+COS far-ultraviolet data are dominated by the hot, primary white dwarf and allow us to precisely measure its temperature (T1). Using eclipse observations, we also tightly constrain the temperature of the cooler secondary white dwarf (T2). Our results, where T1 = 22439 +/- 59 K and T2 = 10876 +/- 32 K, with the uncertainties being purely statistical, place the secondary inside and close to the blue edge of the empirical instability strip for low temperature hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarfs. Dedicated high-speed photometry is encouraged to probe for the presence of pulsations, which will constrain the border of the instability strip as well as probe a new region of low gravity within the strip.

Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Kepler-field cluster NGC 6819. I. The bottom of the white dwarf cooling sequence

We use Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to reach the end of the white dwarf (WD) cooling sequence (CS) in the solar-metallicity open cluster NGC 6819. Our photometry and completeness tests show a sharp drop in the number of WDs along the CS at magnitudes fainter than mF606W = 26.050+/- 0.075. This implies an age of 2.25+/-0.20 Gyr, consistent with the age of 2.25+/-0.30 Gyr obtained from fits to the main-sequence turn-off. The use of different WD cooling models and initial-final-mass relations have a minor impact the WD age estimate, at the level of ~0.1 Gyr. As an important by-product of this investigation we also release, in electronic format, both the catalogue of all the detected sources and the atlases of the region (in two filters). Indeed, this patch of sky studied by HST (of size ~70 arcmin sq.) is entirely within the main Kepler-mission field, so the high-resolution images and deep catalogues will be particularly useful.

Pan-chromatic observations of the remarkable nova LMC 2012

We present the results of an intensive multiwavelength campaign on nova LMC 2012. This nova evolved very rapidly in all observed wavelengths. The time to fall two magnitudes in the V band was only 2 days. In X-rays the super soft phase began 13$\pm$5 days after discovery and ended around day 50 after discovery. During the super soft phase, the \Swift/XRT and \Chandra\ spectra were consistent with the underlying white dwarf being very hot, $\sim$ 1 MK, and luminous, $\sim$ 10$^{38}$ erg s$^{-1}$. The UV, optical, and near-IR photometry showed a periodic variation after the initial and rapid fading had ended. Timing analysis revealed a consistent 19.24$\pm$0.03 hr period in all UV, optical, and near-IR bands with amplitudes of $\sim$ 0.3 magnitudes which we associate with the orbital period of the central binary. No periods were detected in the corresponding X-ray data sets. A moderately high inclination system, $i$ = 60$\pm$10$^{\arcdeg}$, was inferred from the early optical emission lines. The {\it HST}/STIS UV spectra were highly unusual with only the \ion{N}{5} (1240\AA) line present and superposed on a blue continuum. The lack of emission lines and the observed UV and optical continua from four epochs can be fit with a low mass ejection event, $\sim$ 10$^{-6}$ M$_{\odot}$, from a hot and massive white dwarf near the Chandrasekhar limit. The white dwarf, in turn, significantly illuminated its subgiant companion which provided the bulk of the observed UV/optical continuum emission at the later dates. The inferred extreme white dwarf characteristics and low mass ejection event favor nova LMC 2012 being a recurrent nova of the U Sco subclass.

Multiwaveband photometry of the irradiated brown dwarf WD0137-349B

WD0137-349 is a white dwarf-brown dwarf binary system in a 116 minute orbit. We present radial velocity observations and multiwaveband photometry from V, R and I in the optical, to J, H and Ks in the near-IR and [3.6], [4.5], [5.8] and [8.0] microns in the mid-IR. The photometry and lightcurves show variability in all wavebands, with the amplitude peaking at [4.5] microns, where the system is also brightest. Fluxes and brightness temperatures were computed for the heated and unheated atmosphere of the brown dwarf (WD0137-349B) using synthetic spectra of the white dwarf using model atmosphere simulations. We show that the flux from the brown dwarf dayside is brighter than expected in the Ks and [4.5] micron bands when compared to models of irradiated brown dwarfs with full energy circulation and suggest this over-luminosity may be attributed to H2 fluorescence or H3+ being generated in the atmosphere by the UV irradiation.

 

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