Posts Tagged white dwarf

Recent Postings from white dwarf

Revealing the pulsational properties of the V777 Her star KUV 05134+2605 by its long-term monitoring

Context: KUV 05134+2605 is one of the 21 pulsating DB white dwarfs (V777 Her or DBV variables) known so far. The detailed investigation of the short-period and low-amplitude pulsations of these relatively faint targets requires considerable observational efforts from the ground, long-term single-site or multisite observations. The observed amplitudes of excited modes undergo short-term variations in many cases, which makes the determination of pulsation modes difficult. Methods: We re-analysed the data already published, and collected new measurements. We compared the frequency content of the different datasets from the different epochs and performed various tests to check the reliability of the frequency determinations. The mean period spacings were investigated with linear fits to the observed periods, Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Inverse Variance significance tests, and Fourier analysis of different period sets, including a Monte Carlo test simulating the effect of alias ambiguities. We employed fully evolutionary DB white dwarf models for the asteroseismic investigations. Results: We identified 22 frequencies between 1280 and 2530 microHz. These form 12 groups, which suggests at least 12 possible frequencies for the asteroseismic investigations. Thanks to the extended observations, KUV 05134+2605 joined the group of rich white dwarf pulsators. We identified one triplet and at least one doublet with a ~9 microHz frequency separation, from which we derived a stellar rotation period of 0.6 d. We determined the mean period spacings of ~31 and ~18 s for the modes we propose as dipole and quadrupole, respectively. We found an excellent agreement between the stellar mass derived from the l=1 period spacing and the period-to-period fits, all providing M_* = 0.84-0.85 M_Sun solutions. Our study suggests that KUV 05134+2605 is the most massive amongst the known V777 Her stars.

Fermi Establishes Classical Novae as a Distinct Class of Gamma-Ray Sources

A classical nova results from runaway thermonuclear explosions on the surface of a white dwarf that accretes matter from a low-mass main-sequence stellar companion. In 2012 and 2013, three novae were detected in gamma rays and stood in contrast to the first gamma-ray detected nova V407 Cygni 2010, which belongs to a rare class of symbiotic binary systems. Despite likely differences in the compositions and masses of their white dwarf progenitors, the three classical novae are similarly characterized as soft spectrum transient gamma-ray sources detected over 2-3 week durations. The gamma-ray detections point to unexpected high-energy particle acceleration processes linked to the mass ejection from thermonuclear explosions in an unanticipated class of Galactic gamma-ray sources.

ALMA and Herschel Observations of the Prototype Dusty and Polluted White Dwarf G29-38

ALMA Cycle 0 and Herschel PACS observations are reported for the prototype, nearest, and brightest example of a dusty and polluted white dwarf, G29-38. These long wavelength programs attempted to detect an outlying, parent population of bodies at 1-100 AU, from which originates the disrupted planetesimal debris that is observed within 0.01 AU and which exhibits L_IR/L = 0.039. No associated emission sources were detected in any of the data down to L_IR/L ~ 1e-4, generally ruling out cold dust masses greater than 1e24 – 1e25 g for reasonable grain sizes and properties in orbital regions corresponding to evolved versions of both asteroid and Kuiper belt analogs. Overall, these null detections are consistent with models of long-term collisional evolution in planetesimal disks, and the source regions for the disrupted parent bodies at stars like G29-38 may only be salient in exceptional circumstances, such as a recent instability. A larger sample of polluted white dwarfs, targeted with the full ALMA array, has the potential to unambiguously identify the parent source(s) of their planetary debris.

Hubble Space Telescope Imaging and Spectroscopy of the Sirius-Like Triple Star System HD 217411

We present Hubble Space Telescope imaging and spectroscopy of HD 217411, a G3 V star associated with the extreme ultraviolet excess source (EUV 2RE J2300-07.0). This star is revealed to be a triple system with a G 3V primary (HD 217411 A) separated by ~1.1" from a secondary that is in turn composed of an unresolved K0 V star (HD 217411 Ba) and a hot DA white dwarf (HD 217411 Bb). The hot white dwarf dominates the UV flux of the system. However; it is in turn dominated by the K0 V component beyond 3000 {\AA}. A revised distance of 143 pc is estimated for the system. A low level photometric modulation having a period of 0.61 days has also been observed in this system along with a rotational velocity on the order of 60 km s-1 in the K0 V star. Together both observations point to a possible wind induced spin up of the K0 V star during the AGB phase of the white dwarf. The nature of all three components is discussed as are constraints on the orbits, system age and evolution.

Radius constraints from high-speed photometry of 20 low-mass white dwarf binaries

We carry out high-speed photometry on 20 of the shortest-period, detached white dwarf binaries known and discover systems with eclipses, ellipsoidal variations (due to tidal deformations of the visible white dwarf), and Doppler beaming. All of the binaries contain low-mass white dwarfs with orbital periods less than 4 hr. Our observations identify the first eight tidally distorted white dwarfs, four of which are reported for the first time here, which we use to put empirical constraints on the mass-radius relationship for extremely low-mass (<0.30 Msun) white dwarfs. We also detect Doppler beaming in several of these binaries, which confirms the high-amplitude radial-velocity variability. All of these systems are strong sources of gravitational radiation, and long-term monitoring of those that display ellipsoidal variations can be used to detect spin-up of the tidal bulge due to orbital decay.

Early 56Ni decay {\gamma}-rays from SN2014J suggest an unusual explosion

Type-Ia supernovae result from binary systems that include a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, and these thermonuclear explosions typically produce 0.5 M_solar of radioactive 56Ni. The 56Ni is commonly believed to be buried deeply in the expanding supernova cloud. Surprisingly, in SN2014J we detected the lines at 158 and 812 keV from 56Ni decay ({\tau}~8.8 days) earlier than the expected several-week time scale, only ~20 days after the explosion, and with flux levels corresponding to roughly 10% of the total expected amount of 56Ni. Some mechanism must break the spherical symmetry of the supernova, and at the same time create a major amount of 56Ni at the outskirts. A plausible explanation is that a belt of helium from the companion star is accreted by the white dwarf, where this material explodes and then triggers the supernova event.

Early 56Ni decay {\gamma}-rays from SN2014J suggest an unusual explosion [Replacement]

Type-Ia supernovae result from binary systems that include a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, and these thermonuclear explosions typically produce 0.5 M_solar of radioactive 56Ni. The 56Ni is commonly believed to be buried deeply in the expanding supernova cloud. Surprisingly, in SN2014J we detected the lines at 158 and 812 keV from 56Ni decay ({\tau}~8.8 days) earlier than the expected several-week time scale, only ~20 days after the explosion, and with flux levels corresponding to roughly 10% of the total expected amount of 56Ni. Some mechanism must break the spherical symmetry of the supernova, and at the same time create a major amount of 56Ni at the outskirts. A plausible explanation is that a belt of helium from the companion star is accreted by the white dwarf, where this material explodes and then triggers the supernova event.

Revisiting the axion bounds from the Galactic white dwarf luminosity function

It has been shown that the shape of the luminosity function of white dwarfs (WDLF) is a powerful tool to check for the possible existence of DFSZ-axions, a proposed but not yet detected type of weakly interacting particles. With the aim of deriving new constraints on the axion mass, we compute in this paper new theoretical WDLFs on the basis of WD evolving models that incorporate for the feedback of axions on the thermal structure of the white dwarf. We find that the impact of the axion emission into the neutrino emission can not be neglected at high luminosities ($M_{\rm Bol}\lesssim 8$) and that the axion emission needs to be incorporated self-consistently into the evolution of the white dwarfs when dealing with axion masses larger than $m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 5$ meV (i.e. axion-electron coupling constant $g_{ae}\gtrsim 1.4\times 10^{-13}$). We went beyond previous works by including 5 different derivations of the WDLF in our analysis. Then we have performed $\chi^2$-tests to have a quantitative measure of the assessment between the theoretical WDLFs —computed under the assumptions of different axion masses and normalization methods— and the observed WDLFs of the Galactic disk. While all the WDLF studied in this work disfavour axion masses in the range suggested by asteroseismology ($m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 10$ meV; $g_{ae}\gtrsim 2.8\times 10^{-13}$) lower axion masses can not be discarded from our current knowledge of the WDLF of the Galactic Disk. A larger set of completely independent derivations of the WDLF of the galactic disk as well as a detailed study of the uncertainties of the theoretical WDLFs is needed before quantitative constraints on the axion-electron coupling constant can be made.

Revisiting the axion bounds from the Galactic white dwarf luminosity function [Cross-Listing]

It has been shown that the shape of the luminosity function of white dwarfs (WDLF) is a powerful tool to check for the possible existence of DFSZ-axions, a proposed but not yet detected type of weakly interacting particles. With the aim of deriving new constraints on the axion mass, we compute in this paper new theoretical WDLFs on the basis of WD evolving models that incorporate for the feedback of axions on the thermal structure of the white dwarf. We find that the impact of the axion emission into the neutrino emission can not be neglected at high luminosities ($M_{\rm Bol}\lesssim 8$) and that the axion emission needs to be incorporated self-consistently into the evolution of the white dwarfs when dealing with axion masses larger than $m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 5$ meV (i.e. axion-electron coupling constant $g_{ae}\gtrsim 1.4\times 10^{-13}$). We went beyond previous works by including 5 different derivations of the WDLF in our analysis. Then we have performed $\chi^2$-tests to have a quantitative measure of the assessment between the theoretical WDLFs —computed under the assumptions of different axion masses and normalization methods— and the observed WDLFs of the Galactic disk. While all the WDLF studied in this work disfavour axion masses in the range suggested by asteroseismology ($m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 10$ meV; $g_{ae}\gtrsim 2.8\times 10^{-13}$) lower axion masses can not be discarded from our current knowledge of the WDLF of the Galactic Disk. A larger set of completely independent derivations of the WDLF of the galactic disk as well as a detailed study of the uncertainties of the theoretical WDLFs is needed before quantitative constraints on the axion-electron coupling constant can be made.

The Signature of Single-Degenerate Accretion Induced Collapse [Replacement]

The accretion induced collapse (AIC) of a white dwarf to a neutron star has long been suggested as a natural theoretical outcome in stellar evolution, but there has never been a direct detection of such an event. This is not surprising since the small amount of radioactive nickel synthesized ($\sim10^{-3}\,M_\odot$) implies a relatively dim optical transient. Here we argue that a particularly strong signature of an AIC would occur for an oxygen-neon-magnesium (ONeMg) white dwarf accreting from a star that is experiencing Roche-lobe overflow as it becomes a red giant. In such cases, the $\sim10^{50}\,{\rm erg}$ explosion from the AIC collides with and shock-heats the surface of the extended companion, creating an X-ray flash lasting $\sim1\,{\rm hr}$ followed by an optical signature that peaks at an absolute magnitude of $\sim -16$ to $-18$ and lasts for a few days to a week. These events would be especially striking in old stellar environments where hydrogen-rich supernova-like, transients would not normally be expected. Although the rate of such events is not currently known, we describe observing strategies that could be utilized with high cadence surveys that should either detect these events or place strong constraints on their rates.

The Signature of Single-Degenerate Accretion Induced Collapse

The accretion induced collapse (AIC) of a white dwarf to a neutron star has long been suggested as a natural theoretical outcome in stellar evolution, but there has never been a direct detection of such an event. This is not surprising since the small amount of radioactive nickel synthesized ($\sim10^{-3}\,M_\odot$) implies a relatively dim optical transient. Here we argue that a particularly strong signature of an AIC would occur for an oxygen-neon-magnesium (ONeMg) white dwarf accreting from a star that is experiencing Roche-lobe overflow as it becomes a red giant. In such cases, the $\sim10^{50}\,{\rm erg}$ explosion from the AIC collides with and shock-heats the surface of the extended companion, creating an X-ray flash lasting $\sim1\,{\rm hr}$ followed by an optical signature that peaks at an absolute magnitude of $\sim -16$ to $-18$ and lasts for a few days to a week. These events would be especially striking in old stellar environments where hydrogen-rich supernova-like, transients would not normally be expected. Although the rate of such events is not currently known, we describe observing strategies that could be utilized with high cadence surveys that should either detect these events or place strong constraints on their rates.

A parameter study of the eclipsing CV in the Kepler field, KIS J192748.53+444724.5

We present high-speed, three-colour photometry of the eclipsing dwarf nova KIS J192748.53+444724.5 which is located in the Kepler field. Our data reveal sharp features corresponding to the eclipses of the accreting white dwarf followed by the bright spot where the gas stream joins the accretion disc. We determine the system parameters via a parameterized model of the eclipse fitted to the observed lightcurve. We obtain a mass ratio of q = 0.570 +/- 0.011 and an orbital inclination of 84.6 +/- 0.3 degrees. The primary mass is M_w = 0.69 +/- 0.07 Msun. The donor star’s mass and radius are found to be M_d = 0.39 +/- 0.04 Msun and R_d = 0.43 +/- 0.01 Rsun, respectively. From the fluxes of the white dwarf eclipse we find a white dwarf temperature of T_w = 23000 +/- 3000 K, and a photometric distance to the system of 1600 +/- 200 pc, neglecting the effects of interstellar reddening. The white dwarf temperature in KISJ1927 implies the white dwarf is accreting at an average rate of Mdot = (1.4 +/- 0.8) x10e-9 Msun/yr, in agreement with estimates of the secular mass loss rate from the donor.

A 1.05 $M_\odot$ Companion to PSR J2222-0137: The Coolest Known White Dwarf?

The recycled pulsar PSR J2222-0137 is one of the closest known neutron stars, with a parallax distance of $267_{-0.9}^{+1.2}\,$pc and an edge-on orbit. We measure the Shapiro delay in the system through pulsar timing with the Green Bank Telescope, deriving a low pulsar mass ($1.20\pm0.14$ $M_\odot$) and a high companion mass ($1.05\pm0.06$ $M_\odot$) consistent with either a low-mass neutron star or a high-mass white dwarf. We can largely reject the neutron star hypothesis on the basis of the system’s extremely low eccentricity (3e-4) – too low to have been the product of two supernovae under normal circumstances. However, despite deep optical and near-infrared searches with SOAR and the Keck telescopes we have not discovered the optical counterpart of the system. This is consistent with the white dwarf hypothesis only if the effective temperature is <3000 K, a limit that is robust to distance, mass, and atmosphere uncertainties. This would make the companion to PSR J2222-0137 one of the coolest white dwarfs ever observed. For the implied age to be consistent with the age of the Milky Way requires the white dwarf to have already crystallized and entered the faster Debye-cooling regime.

IP Eri: A surprising long-period binary system hosting a He white dwarf

We determine the orbital elements for the K0 IV + white dwarf (WD) system IP Eri, which appears to have a surprisingly long period of 1071 d and a significant eccentricity of 0.25. Previous spectroscopic analyses of the WD, based on a distance of 101 pc inferred from its Hipparcos parallax, yielded a mass of only 0.43 M$_\odot$, implying it to be a helium-core WD. The orbital properties of IP Eri are similar to those of the newly discovered long-period subdwarf B star (sdB) binaries, which involve stars with He-burning cores surrounded by extremely thin H envelopes, and are therefore close relatives to He WDs. We performed a spectroscopic analysis of high-resolution spectra from the HERMES/Mercator spectrograph and concluded that the atmospheric parameters of the K0 component are $T_{\rm eff} = 4960$ K, $\log{g} = 3.3$, [Fe/H] = 0.09 and $\xi = 1.5$ km/s. The detailed abundance analysis focuses on C, N, O abundances, carbon isotopic ratio, light (Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti) and s-process (Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Ce, Nd) elements. We conclude that IP Eri abundances agree with those of normal field stars of the same metallicity. The long period and non-null eccentricity indicate that this system cannot be the end product of a common-envelope phase; it calls instead for another less catastrophic binary-evolution channel presented in detail in a companion paper (Siess et al. 2014).

IP Eri: A surprising long-period binary system hosting a He white dwarf [Replacement]

We determine the orbital elements for the K0 IV + white dwarf (WD) system IP Eri, which appears to have a surprisingly long period of 1071 d and a significant eccentricity of 0.25. Previous spectroscopic analyses of the WD, based on a distance of 101 pc inferred from its Hipparcos parallax, yielded a mass of only 0.43 M$_\odot$, implying it to be a helium-core WD. The orbital properties of IP Eri are similar to those of the newly discovered long-period subdwarf B star (sdB) binaries, which involve stars with He-burning cores surrounded by extremely thin H envelopes, and are therefore close relatives to He WDs. We performed a spectroscopic analysis of high-resolution spectra from the HERMES/Mercator spectrograph and concluded that the atmospheric parameters of the K0 component are $T_{\rm eff} = 4960$ K, $\log{g} = 3.3$, [Fe/H] = 0.09 and $\xi = 1.5$ km/s. The detailed abundance analysis focuses on C, N, O abundances, carbon isotopic ratio, light (Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti) and s-process (Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Ce, Nd) elements. We conclude that IP Eri abundances agree with those of normal field stars of the same metallicity. The long period and non-null eccentricity indicate that this system cannot be the end product of a common-envelope phase; it calls instead for another less catastrophic binary-evolution channel presented in detail in a companion paper (Siess et al. 2014).

One possible solution of peculiar type Ia supernovae explosions caused by a charged white dwarf

Recently astrophysics observation reveals the existence of some super luminous type Ia supernovae. One natural explanation of such peculiar phenomenon is to require the progenitor of such supernova to be a highly super-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. Along this line, in this paper, we propose a possible mechanism to explain this phenomenon based on charged white dwarf. In particular, by choosing suitable new variables and a representative charge distribution, an analytic solution is obtained. The stability issue is also discussed, remarkably, it turns out that the charged white dwarf configuration can be dynamical stable. Moreover, we investigate the general relativistic effects and it is shown that the general relativistic effects can be negligible when the mass of charged white dwarf below about $3M_\odot$.

One possible solution of peculiar type Ia supernovae explosions caused by a charged white dwarf [Cross-Listing]

Recently astrophysics observation reveals the existence of some super luminous type Ia supernovae. One natural explanation of such peculiar phenomenon is to require the progenitor of such supernova to be a highly super-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. Along this line, in this paper, we propose a possible mechanism to explain this phenomenon based on charged white dwarf. In particular, by choosing suitable new variables and a representative charge distribution, an analytic solution is obtained. The stability issue is also discussed, remarkably, it turns out that the charged white dwarf configuration can be dynamical stable. Moreover, we investigate the general relativistic effects and it is shown that the general relativistic effects can be negligible when the mass of charged white dwarf below about $3M_\odot$.

One possible solution of peculiar type Ia supernovae explosions caused by a charged white dwarf [Replacement]

Recent astrophysics observation reveals the existence of some super luminous type Ia supernovae. One natural explanation of such a peculiar phenomenon is to require the progenitor of such a supernova to be a highly super-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. Along this line, in this paper, we propose a possible mechanism to explain this phenomenon based on a charged white dwarf. In particular, by choosing suitable new variables and a representative charge distribution, an analytic solution is obtained. The stability issue is also discussed, remarkably, it turns out that the charged white dwarf configuration can be dynamically stable. Moreover, we investigate the general relativistic effects and it is shown that the general relativistic effects can be negligible when the mass of the charged white dwarf is below about $3M_\odot$.

One possible solution of peculiar type Ia supernovae explosions caused by a charged white dwarf [Replacement]

Recent astrophysics observation reveals the existence of some super luminous type Ia supernovae. One natural explanation of such a peculiar phenomenon is to require the progenitor of such a supernova to be a highly super-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. Along this line, in this paper, we propose a possible mechanism to explain this phenomenon based on a charged white dwarf. In particular, by choosing suitable new variables and a representative charge distribution, an analytic solution is obtained. The stability issue is also discussed, remarkably, it turns out that the charged white dwarf configuration can be dynamically stable. Moreover, we investigate the general relativistic effects and it is shown that the general relativistic effects can be negligible when the mass of the charged white dwarf is below about $3M_\odot$.

Precision asteroseismology of the pulsating white dwarf GD 1212 using a two-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft

We present a preliminary analysis of the cool pulsating white dwarf GD 1212, enabled by more than 11.5 days of space-based photometry obtained during an engineering test of the two-reaction-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft. We detect at least 19 independent pulsation modes, ranging from 828.2-1220.8 s, and at least 17 nonlinear combination frequencies of those independent pulsations. Our longest uninterrupted light curve, 9.0 days in length, evidences coherent difference frequencies at periods inaccessible from the ground, up to 14.5 hr, the longest-period signals ever detected in a pulsating white dwarf. These results mark some of the first science to come from a two-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft, proving the capability for unprecedented discoveries afforded by extending Kepler observations to the ecliptic.

Mass Radius Relation of Strongly Magnetized White Dwarfs and the Effects of Landau Quantization

We compute static equilibria of White Dwarf stars containing strong poloidal magnetic field, and present the modification of White Dwarf mass-radius relation caused by the magnetic field. We find that a maximum White Dwarf mass of $\sim 1.9 M_{\odot}$ may be supported if the interior field is as strong as $\sim10^{10}$ T. This mass is over 30 % larger than the traditional Chandrasekhar Limit. The equation of state of electron degenerate matter can be strongly modified due to Landau quantization at such high magnetic fields. We find, however, that this does not significantly affect the structure of the White Dwarf.

On the origin of the peculiar cataclysmic variable AE Aquarii

The nova-like variable AE Aquarii is a close binary system containing a red dwarf and a magnetized white dwarf rotating with the period of 33 seconds. A short spin period of the white dwarf is caused by an intensive mass exchange between the system components during a previous epoch. We show that a high rate of disk accretion onto the white dwarf surface resulted in temporary screening of its magnetic field and spin-up of the white dwarf to its present spin period. Transition of the white dwarf to the ejector state occurred at a final stage of the spin-up epoch after its magnetic field had emerged from the accreted plasma due to diffusion. In the frame of this scenario AE Aqr represents a missing link in the chain of Polars evolution and the white dwarf resembles a recycled pulsar.

Stellar laboratories III. New Ba V, Ba VI, and Ba VII oscillator strengths and the barium 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, 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 Ba V – VII oscillator strengths are used to identify Ba 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 Ba abundances. We newly calculated Ba V – VII oscillator strengths to consider their radiative and collisional bound-bound transitions in detail in our NLTE stellar-atmosphere models for the analysis of Ba lines exhibited in high-resolution and high-S/N UV observations of G191-B2B and RE0503-289. For the first time, we identified highly ionized Ba in the spectra of hot white dwarfs. We detected Ba VI and Ba VII lines in the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) spectrum of RE0503-289. The Ba VI / Ba VII ionization equilibrium is well reproduced with the previously determined effective temperature of 70000 K and surface gravity of $\log g = 7.5$. The Ba abundance is $3.5 \pm 0.5 \times 10^{-4}$ (mass fraction, about 23000 times the solar value). In the FUSE spectrum of G191-B2B, we identified the strongest Ba VII line (at 993.41 \AA) only, and determined a Ba abundance of $4.0 \pm 0.5 \times 10^{-6}$ (about 265 times solar). Reliable measurements and calculations of atomic data are a pre-requisite for stellar-atmosphere modeling. Observed Ba VI – VII line profiles in two white dwarfs’ (G191-B2B and RE0503-289) far-ultraviolet spectra were well reproduced with our newly calculated oscillator strengths. This allowed to determine the photospheric Ba abundance of these two stars precisely.

KOI-3278: A Self-Lensing Binary Star System

Over 40% of Sun-like stars are bound in binary or multistar systems. Stellar remnants in edge-on binary systems can gravitationally magnify their companions, as predicted 40 years ago. By using data from the Kepler spacecraft, we report the detection of such a "self-lensing" system, in which a 5-hour pulse of 0.1% amplitude occurs every orbital period. The white dwarf stellar remnant and its Sun-like companion orbit one another every 88.18 days, a long period for a white dwarf-eclipsing binary. By modeling the pulse as gravitational magnification (microlensing) along with Kepler’s laws and stellar models, we constrain the mass of the white dwarf to be ~63% of the mass of our Sun. Further study of this system, and any others discovered like it, will help to constrain the physics of white dwarfs and binary star evolution.

Evaporation and Accretion of Extrasolar Comets Following White Dwarf Kicks

Several lines of observational evidence suggest that white dwarfs receive small birth kicks due to anisotropic mass loss. If other stars possess extrasolar analogues to the Solar Oort cloud, the orbits of comets in such clouds will be scrambled by white dwarf natal kicks. Although most comets will be unbound, some will be placed on low angular momentum orbits vulnerable to sublimation or tidal disruption. The dusty debris from these comets will manifest itself as a debris disk temporarily visible around newborn white dwarfs; examples of such disks may already have been seen in the Helix Nebula, and around several other young WDs. Future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope will distinguish this hypothesis from alternatives such as a dynamically excited Kuiper Belt analogue. If interpreted as indeed being cometary in origin, the observation that >15% of young WDs possess such disks provides indirect evidence that low mass gas giants (thought necessary to produce an Oort cloud) are common in the outer regions of extrasolar planetary systems. Hydrogen abundances in the atmospheres of older white dwarfs can, if sufficiently low, also be used to place constraints on the joint parameter space of natal kicks and exo-Oort cloud models.

The 2011 Outburst of Recurrent Nova T Pyx: X-ray Observations Expose the White Dwarf Mass and Ejection Dynamics

The recurrent nova T Pyx underwent its sixth historical outburst in 2011, and became the subject of an intensive multi-wavelength observational campaign. We analyze data from the Swift and Suzaku satellites to produce a detailed X-ray light curve augmented by epochs of spectral information. X-ray observations yield mostly non-detections in the first four months of outburst, but both a super-soft and hard X-ray component rise rapidly after Day 115. The super-soft X-ray component, attributable to the photosphere of the nuclear-burning white dwarf, is relatively cool (~45 eV) and implies that the white dwarf in T Pyx is significantly below the Chandrasekhar mass (~1 M_sun). The late turn-on time of the super-soft component yields a large nova ejecta mass (>~10^-5 M_sun), consistent with estimates at other wavelengths. The hard X-ray component is well fit by a ~1 keV thermal plasma, and is attributed to shocks internal to the 2011 nova ejecta. The presence of a strong oxygen line in this thermal plasma on Day 194 requires a significantly super-solar abundance of oxygen and implies that the ejecta are polluted by white dwarf material. The X-ray light curve can be explained by a dual-phase ejection, with a significant delay between the first and second ejection phases, and the second ejection finally released two months after outburst. A delayed ejection is consistent with optical and radio observations of T Pyx, but the physical mechanism producing such a delay remains a mystery.

New approaches to SNe Ia progenitors

Although Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are a major tool in cosmology and play a key role in the chemical evolution of galaxies, the nature of their progenitor systems (apart from the fact that they must be close binaries containing at least one white dwarf) remains largely unknown. In the last decade, considerable efforts have been made, both observationally and theoretically, to solve this problem. Observations have, however, revealed a previously unsuspected variety of events, ranging from very underluminous outbursts to clearly overluminous ones, and spanning a range well outside the peak luminosity–decline rate of the light curve relationship, used to make calibrated candles of the SNe Ia. On the theoretical side, new explosion scenarios, such as violent mergings of pairs of white dwarfs, have been explored. We review those recent developments, emphasizing the new observational findings, but also trying to tie them to the different scenarios and explosion mechanisms proposed thus far.

Absorption non-symmetric ion-atom processes in helium-rich white dwarf atmospheres

In this work the processes of absorption charge-exchange and photo-association in He+H$^{+}$ collisions together with the process of ion HeH$^{+}$ photo-dissociation are considered as factors of influence on the opacity of the atmospheres of helium-rich white dwarfs in the far UV and EUV region. It is shown that they should be taken into account even in the cases of the atmospheres of white dwarfs with H:He =$10^{-5}$. Than, it is established that in the cases of white dwarfs with H:He $\gtrsim 10^{-4}$, particulary when H:He $\approx 10^{-3}$, these processes have to be included \emph{ab initio} in the corresponding models of their atmospheres, since in the far UV and EUV region they become dominant with respect to the known symmetric ion-atom absorption processes.

Mid-Infrared High-Contrast Imaging of HD 114174 B : An Apparent Age Discrepancy in a "Sirius-Like" Binary System

We present new observations of the faint "Sirius-like" companion discovered to orbit HD 114174. Previous attempts to image HD 114174 B at mid-infrared wavelengths using NIRC2 at Keck have resulted in a non-detection. Our new L’-band observations taken with the Large Binocular Telescope and LMIRCam recover the companion ($\Delta L$ = 10.15 $\pm$ 0.15 mag, $\rho$ = 0.675” $\pm$ 0.016”) with a high signal-to-noise ratio (10 $\sigma$). This measurement represents the deepest L’ high-contrast imaging detection at sub-arcsecond separations to date, including extrasolar planets. We confirm that HD 114174 B has near-infrared colors consistent with the interpretation of a cool white dwarf ($J-L’$ = 0.76 $\pm$ 0.19 mag, $K-L’$ = 0.64 $\pm$ 0.20). New model fits to the object’s spectral energy distribution indicate a temperature $T_{\rm eff}$ = 4260 $\pm$ 360 K, surface gravity log g = 7.94 $\pm$ 0.03, a cooling age t$_{c} \approx$ 7.8 Gyr, and mass $M$ = 0.54 $\pm$ 0.01 $M_{\odot}$. We find that the cooling age given by theoretical atmospheric models do not agree with the age of HD 114174 A derived from both isochronological and gyrochronological analyses. We speculate on possible scenarios to explain the apparent age discrepancy between the primary and secondary. HD 114174 B is a nearby benchmark white dwarf that will ultimately enable a dynamical mass estimate through continued Doppler and astrometric monitoring. Efforts to characterize its physical properties in detail will test theoretical atmospheric models and improve our understanding of white dwarf evolution, cooling, and progenitor masses.

Detection of white dwarf companions to blue stragglers in the open cluster NGC 188: direct evidence for recent mass transfer

Several possible formation pathways for blue straggler stars have been developed recently, but no one pathway has yet been observationally confirmed for a specific blue straggler. Here we report the first findings from a Hubble Space Telescope ACS/SBC far-UV photometric program to search for white dwarf companions to blue straggler stars. We find three hot and young white dwarf companions to blue straggler stars in the 7-Gyr open cluster NGC 188, indicating that mass transfer in these systems ended less than 300 Myr ago. These companions are direct and secure observational evidence that these blue straggler stars were formed through mass transfer in binary stars. Their existence in a well-studied cluster environment allows for observational constraints of both the current binary system and the progenitor binary system, mapping the entire mass transfer history.

Spectroscopy of the enigmatic short-period cataclysmic variable IR Com in an extended low state [Replacement]

We report the occurrence of a deep low state in the eclipsing short-period cataclysmic variable IR Com, lasting more than two years. Spectroscopy obtained in this state shows the system as a detached white dwarf plus low-mass companion, indicating that accretion has practically ceased. The spectral type of the companion derived from the SDSS spectrum is M6-7, somewhat later than expected for the orbital period of IR Com. Its radial velocity amplitude, K_2=419.6+-3.4 km/s, together with the inclination of 75-90deg implies 0.8Msun<Mwd<1.0Msun. We estimate the white dwarf temperature to be ~15000K, and the absence of Zeeman splitting in the Balmer lines rules out magnetic fields in excess of ~5 MG. IR Com still defies an unambiguous classification, in particular the occurrence of a deep, long low state is so far unique among short-period CVs that are not strongly magnetic.

Spectroscopy of the enigmatic short-period cataclysmic variable IR Com in an extended low state

We report the occurrence of a deep low state in the eclipsing short-period cataclysmic variable IR Com, lasting more than two years. Spectroscopy obtained in this state shows the system as a detached white dwarf plus low-mass companion, indicating that accretion has practically ceased. The spectral type of the companion is M6-7, suggesting a mass of 0.15-0.20 Msun. Its radial velocity amplitude, K_2=419.6+/-3.4 km/s, together with the inclination of 75deg – 90deg implies 0.91Msun<Mwd<1.05Msun. We estimate the white dwarf temperature to be ~15000K, and the absence of Zeeman splitting in the Balmer lines rules out magnetic fields in excess of ~5MG. While all the binary and stellar parameters are typical for a CV near the lower edge of the orbital period gap, the long-term behaviour of IR Com defies its classification, in particular the occurrence of a deep, long low state is so far unique among short-period CVs that are not strongly magnetic.

Evidence for an oscillation of the magnetic axis of the white dwarf in the polar DP Leonis

From 1979 to 2001, the magnetic axis of the white dwarf in the polar DP Leo slowly rotated by 50 deg in azimuth, possibly indicating a small asynchronism between the rotational and orbital periods of the magnetic white dwarf. We have obtained phase-resolved orbital light curves between 2009 and 2013, which show that this trend has not continued in recent years. Our data are consistent with the theoretically predicted oscillation of the magnetic axis of the white dwarf about an equilibrium orientation, which is defined by the competition between the accretion torque and the magnetostatic interaction of the primary and secondary star. Our data indicate an oscillation period of ~60 yr, an amplitude of about 25 deg, and an equilibrium orientation leading the connecting line of the two stars by about 7 deg.

A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system

Gravitationally bound three-body systems have been studied for hundreds of years and are common in our Galaxy. They show complex orbital interactions, which can constrain the compositions, masses, and interior structures of the bodies and test theories of gravity, if sufficiently precise measurements are available. A triple system containing a radio pulsar could provide such measurements, but the only previously known such system, B1620-26 (with a millisecond pulsar, a white dwarf, and a planetary-mass object in an orbit of several decades), shows only weak interactions. Here we report precision timing and multi-wavelength observations of PSR J0337+1715, a millisecond pulsar in a hierarchical triple system with two other stars. Strong gravitational interactions are apparent and provide the masses of the pulsar (1.4378(13) Msun, where Msun is the solar mass and the parentheses contain the uncertainty in the final decimal places) and the two white dwarf companions (0.19751(15) Msun and 0.4101(3) Msun), as well as the inclinations of the orbits (both approximately 39.2 degrees). The unexpectedly coplanar and nearly circular orbits indicate a complex and exotic evolutionary past that differs from those of known stellar systems. The gravitational field of the outer white dwarf strongly accelerates the inner binary containing the neutron star, and the system will thus provide an ideal laboratory in which to test the strong equivalence principle of general relativity.

A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system [Cross-Listing]

Gravitationally bound three-body systems have been studied for hundreds of years and are common in our Galaxy. They show complex orbital interactions, which can constrain the compositions, masses, and interior structures of the bodies and test theories of gravity, if sufficiently precise measurements are available. A triple system containing a radio pulsar could provide such measurements, but the only previously known such system, B1620-26 (with a millisecond pulsar, a white dwarf, and a planetary-mass object in an orbit of several decades), shows only weak interactions. Here we report precision timing and multi-wavelength observations of PSR J0337+1715, a millisecond pulsar in a hierarchical triple system with two other stars. Strong gravitational interactions are apparent and provide the masses of the pulsar (1.4378(13) Msun, where Msun is the solar mass and the parentheses contain the uncertainty in the final decimal places) and the two white dwarf companions (0.19751(15) Msun and 0.4101(3) Msun), as well as the inclinations of the orbits (both approximately 39.2 degrees). The unexpectedly coplanar and nearly circular orbits indicate a complex and exotic evolutionary past that differs from those of known stellar systems. The gravitational field of the outer white dwarf strongly accelerates the inner binary containing the neutron star, and the system will thus provide an ideal laboratory in which to test the strong equivalence principle of general relativity.

The eclipsing post-common envelope binary CSS21055: a white dwarf with a probable brown-dwarf companion

We report photometric observations of the eclipsing close binary CSS21055 (SDSS J141126+200911) that strongly suggest that the companion to the carbon-oxygen white dwarf is a brown dwarf with a mass between 0.030 and 0.074 Msun. The measured orbital period is 121.73min and the totality of the eclipse lasts 125s. If confirmed, CSS21055 would be the first detached eclipsing WD+BD binary. Spectroscopy in the eclipse could provide information about the companion’s evolutionary state and atmospheric structure.

KIC11911480: the second ZZ Ceti in the $Kepler$ field

We report the discovery of the second pulsating hydrogen-rich (DA) white dwarf in the $Kepler$ field, KIC11911480. It was selected from the $Kepler$-INT Survey (KIS) on the basis of its colours and its variable nature was confirmed using ground-based time-series photometry. An atmosphere model fit to an intermediate-resolution spectrum of KIC11911480 places this DA white dwarf close to the blue edge of the empirical boundaries of the ZZ Ceti instability strip: $T_\mathrm{eff} = 12\,160 \pm 250$ K and $\log{g} = 7.94 \pm 0.10 $. Assuming a mass-radius relation and cooling models for DA white dwarfs, the atmospheric parameters yield: M$_{\rm WD}$ = 0.57 $\pm$ 0.06 M$_\odot$. We also obtained two quarters (Q12 and Q16) of nearly uninterrupted short-cadence $Kepler$ data on this star. We detect a total of six independent pulsation modes with a $\geq$ 3$\sigma$ confidence in its amplitude power spectrum. These pulsations have periods ranging between 172.9 s and 324.5 s, typical of the hotter ZZ Ceti stars. Our preliminary asteroseismic study suggest that KIC11911480 has a rotation rate of 3.5$\pm$0.5 days.

White Dwarf based evaluation of the GALEX absolute calibration

This paper describes a revised photometric calibration of the \emph{Galaxy Evolution Explorer} magnitudes, based on measurements of DA white dwarfs. The photometric magnitudes of white dwarfs measured by \emph{GALEX} are compared to predicted magnitudes based on independent spectroscopic data (108 stars) and alternately to \emph{IUE} UV fluxes of the white dwarfs (218 stars). The results demonstrate a significant non-linear correlation and small offset between archived \emph{GALEX} fluxes and observed and predicted UV fluxes for our sample. The primary source of non-linearity may be due to detector dead time corrections for brighter stars, but it should be noted that there was a predicted non-linearity in the fainter stars as well. Sample expressions are derived which ‘correct’ observed \emph{GALEX} magnitudes to an absolute magnitude scale that is linear with respect, and directly related, to the \emph{Hubble Space Telescope} photometric scale. These corrections should be valid for stars dimmer than magnitudes 9.3 and 10.5 in the NUV and FUV respectively, and brighter than magnitude 17.5 in both

Swift X-ray and ultraviolet observations of the shortest orbital period double-degenerate system RX J0806.3+1527 (HM Cnc) [Replacement]

The system RX J0806.3+1527 (HM Cnc) is a pulsating X-ray source with 100 per cent modulation on a period of 321.5 s (5.4 min). This period reflects the orbital motion of a close binary consisting of two interacting white dwarfs. Here we present a series of simultaneous X-ray (0.2-10 keV) and near-ultraviolet (2600 angstrom and 1928 angstrom) observations that were carried out with the Swift satellite. In the near-ultraviolet, the counterpart of RX J0806.3+1527 was detected at flux densities consistent with a blackbody with temperature 27E+3 K. We found that the emission at 2600 angstrom is modulated at the 321.5-s period with the peak ahead of the X-ray one by 0.28 cycles and is coincident within 0.05 cycles with the optical. This phase-shift measurement confirms that the X-ray hot spot (located on the primary white dwarf) is at about 80-100 degrees from the direction that connects the two white dwarfs. Albeit at lower significance, the 321.5-s signature is present also in the 1928-angstrom data; at this wavelength, however, the pulse peak is better aligned with that observed at X-rays. We use the constraints on the source luminosity and the geometry of the emitting regions to discuss the merits and limits of the main models for RX J0806.3+1527.

Swift X-ray and ultraviolet observations of the shortest orbital period double-degenerate system RX J0806.3+1527 (HM Cnc)

RX J0806.3+1527 (HM Cnc) is a pulsating X-ray source with 100 per cent modulation on a period of 321.5 s (5.4 min). This period reflects the orbital motion of a close binary system consisting of two interacting white dwarfs. Here we present a series of simultaneous X-ray (0.2-10 keV) and near-ultraviolet (2600 angstrom and 1928 angstrom) observations carried out with the Swift satellite. In the near-ultraviolet the counterpart of RX J0806.3+1527 was detected at flux densities consistent with a blackbody with temperature 27E+3 K. We found that the emission at 2600 angstrom is modulated at the 321.5-s period, with the peak ahead of the X-ray one by 0.28 cycles and coincident, within 0.05 cycles, with the optical. This phase-shift measurement confirms that the X-ray hot spot (located on the primary white dwarf) is at about 80-100 degrees from the direction connecting the two white dwarfs. Albeit at lower significance, the 321.5-s signature is present also in the 1928-angstrom data; at this wavelength, however, the pulse peak is better aligned with that observed at X-rays. We use the constraints on the source luminosity and on the geometry of the emitting regions to discuss the merits and limits of the main models for RX J0806.3+1527.

Properties of the Eclipsing Double-White Dwarf Binary NLTT 11748 [Replacement]

We present high-quality ULTRACAM photometry of the eclipsing detached double-white dwarf binary NLTT 11748. This system consists of a carbon/oxygen white dwarf and an extremely-low mass (< 0.2 Msun) helium-core white dwarf in a 5.6 hr orbit. To date such extremely-low mass WDs, which can have thin, stably-burning outer layers, have been modeled via poorly-constrained atmosphere and cooling calculations where uncertainties in the detailed structure can strongly influence the eventual fates of these systems when mass-transfer begins. With precise (individual precision ~1%) high-cadence (~2 s) multi-color photometry of multiple primary and secondary eclipses spanning >1.5 yr, we constrain the masses and radii of both objects in the NLTT 11748 system to a statistical uncertainty of a few percent. However, we find that overall uncertainty in the thickness of the envelope of the secondary carbon/oxygen white dwarf leads to a larger (~13%) systematic uncertainty in the primary He WD’s mass. Over the full range of possible envelope thicknesses we find that our primary mass (0.136-0.162 Msun) and surface gravity (log(g)=6.32-6.38; radii are 0.0423-0.0433 Rsun) constraints do not agree with previous spectroscopic determinations. We use precise eclipse timing to detect the Romer delay at 7 sigma significance, providing an additional weak constraint on the masses and limiting the eccentricity to e*cos(omega)= -4e-5 +/- 5e-5. Finally, we use multi-color data to constrain the secondary’s effective temperature (7600+/-120 K) and cooling age (1.6-1.7 Gyr).

Properties of the Eclipsing Double-White Dwarf Binary NLTT 11748

We present high-quality ULTRACAM photometry of the eclipsing detached double-white dwarf binary NLTT 11748. This system consists of a carbon/oxygen white dwarf and an extremely-low mass (< 0.2 Msun) helium-core white dwarf in a 5.6 hr orbit. To date such extremely-low mass WDs, which can have thin, stably-burning outer layers, have been modeled via poorly-constrained atmosphere and cooling calculations where uncertainties in the detailed structure can strongly influence the eventual fates of these systems when mass-transfer begins. With precise (individual precision ~1%) high-cadence (~2 s) multi-color photometry of multiple primary and secondary eclipses spanning >1.5 yr, we constrain the masses and radii of both objects in the NLTT 11748 system to a statistical uncertainty of a few percent. However, we find that overall uncertainty in the thickness of the envelope of the secondary carbon/oxygen white dwarf leads to a larger (~13%) systematic uncertainty in the primary He WD’s mass. Over the full range of possible envelope thicknesses we find that our primary mass (0.136-0.162 Msun) and surface gravity (log(g)=6.32-6.38; radii are 0.0423-0.0433 Rsun) constraints do not agree with previous spectroscopic determinations. We use precise eclipse timing to detect the Romer delay at 7 sigma significance, providing an additional weak constraint on the masses and limiting the eccentricity to e*cos(omega)= -4e-5 +/- 5e-5. Finally, we use multi-color data to constrain the secondary’s effective temperature (7600+/-120 K) and cooling age (1.6-1.7 Gyr).

Timing variations in the secondary eclipse of NN Ser

The eclipsing white dwarf plus main-sequence binary NN Serpentis provides one of the most convincing cases for the existence of circumbinary planets around evolved binaries. The exquisite timing precision provided by the deep eclipse of the white dwarf has revealed complex variations in the eclipse arrival times over the last few decades. These variations have been interpreted as the influence of two planets in orbit around the binary. Recent studies have proved that such a system is dynamically stable over the current lifetime of the binary. However, the existence of such planets is by no means proven and several alternative mechanisms have been proposed that could drive similar variations. One of these is apsidal precession, which causes the eclipse times of eccentric binaries to vary sinusoidally on many year timescales. In this paper we present timing data for the secondary eclipse of NN Ser and show that they follow the same trend seen in the primary eclipse times, ruling out apsidal precession as a possible cause for the variations. This result leaves no alternatives to the planetary interpretation for the observed period variations, although we still do not consider their existence as proven. Our data limits the eccentricity of NN Ser to e<0.001. We also detect a 3.3+/-1.0 second delay in the arrival times of the secondary eclipses relative to the best planetary model. This delay is consistent with the expected 2.84+/-0.04 second Romer delay of the binary, and is the first time this effect has been detected in a white dwarf plus M dwarf system.

Wind-Driven Evolution of White Dwarf Binaries to Type Ia Supernovae

In the single degenerate scenario for the progenitors of type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), a white dwarf rapidly accretes hydrogen- or helium-rich material from its companion star, and appears as a supersoft X-ray source. This picture has been challenged by the properties of the supersoft X-ray sources with very low-mass companions and the observations of several nearby SNe Ia. It has been pointed out that, the X-ray radiation or the wind from the accreting white dwarf can excite wind or strip mass from the companion star, thus significantly influence the mass transfer processes. In this paper we perform detailed calculations of the wind-driven evolution of white dwarf binaries. We present the parameter space for the possible SN Ia progenitors, and for the surviving companions after the SNe. The results show that the ex-companion stars of SNe Ia have characteristics more compatible with the observations, compared to those in the traditional single degenerate scenario.

Nuclear Mixing Meters for Classical Novae

Classical novae are caused by mass transfer episodes from a main sequence star onto a white dwarf via Roche lobe overflow. This material forms an accretion disk around the white dwarf. Ultimately, a fraction of this material spirals in and piles up on the white dwarf surface under electron-degenerate conditions. The subsequently occurring thermonuclear runaway reaches hundreds of megakelvin and explosively ejects matter into the interstellar medium. The exact peak temperature strongly depends on the underlying white dwarf mass, the accreted mass and metallicity, and the initial white dwarf luminosity. Observations of elemental abundance enrichments in these classical nova events imply that the ejected matter consists not only of processed solar material from the main sequence partner but also of material from the outer layers of the underlying white dwarf. This indicates that white dwarf and accreted matter mix prior to the thermonuclear runaway. The processes by which this mixing occurs require further investigation to be understood. In this work, we analyze elemental abundances ejected from hydrodynamic nova models in search of elemental abundance ratios that are useful indicators of the total amount of mixing. We identify the abundance ratios $\Sigma$CNO/H, Ne/H, Mg/H, Al/H, and Si/H as useful mixing meters in ONe novae. The impact of thermonuclear reaction rate uncertainties on the mixing meters is investigated using Monte Carlo post-processing network calculations with temperature-density evolutions of all mass zones computed by the hydrodynamic models. We find that the current uncertainties in the $^{30}$P($p$,$\gamma$)$^{31}$S rate influence the Si/H abundance ratio, but overall the mixing meters found here are robust against nuclear physics uncertainties. A comparison of our results with observations of ONe novae provides strong constraints for classical nova models.

A spectroscopic binary in the Hercules dwarf spheroidal galaxy

We present the radial velocity curve of a single-lined spectroscopic binary in the faint Hercules dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxy, based on 34 individual spectra covering more than two years of observations. This is the first time that orbital elements could be derived for a binary in a dSph. The system consists of a metal-poor red giant and a low-mass companion, possibly a white dwarf, with a 135-days period in a moderately eccentric ($e=0.18$) orbit. Its period and eccentricity are fully consistent with metal-poor binaries in the Galactic halo, while the projected semimajor axis is small, at $a_p$ sin$i$ = 38 R$_{sun}$. In fact, a very close orbit could inhibit the production of heavier elements through $s$-process nucleosynthesis, leading to the very low abundances of neutron-capture elements that are found in this star. We discuss the further implications for the chemical enrichment history of the Hercules dSph, but find no compelling binary scenario that could reasonably explain the full, peculiar abundance pattern of the Hercules dSph galaxy.

Magnetically powered outbursts from white dwarf mergers

Merger of a white dwarf binary creates a differentially rotating object which is expected to generate strong magnetic fields. Kinetic energy stored in differential rotation is partially dissipated in the magnetically dominated corona, which forms a hot variable outflow with ejection velocity comparable to $10^9$ cm s$^{-1}$. The outflow should carry significant mass and energy for hours to days, creating an expanding fireball with the following features. (i) The fireball is initially opaque and its internal energy is dominated by the trapped thermal radiation. The stored heat is partially converted to kinetic energy of the flow (through adiabatic cooling) and partially radiated away. (ii) Internal shocks develop in the fireball and increase its radiative output. (iii) A significant fraction of the emitted energy is in the optical band. As a result, a bright optical transient with luminosity $L\sim 10^{41}-10^{42}$ erg s$^{-1}$ and a characteristic peak duration comparable to 1 day may be expected from the merger. In contrast to classical novae or supernovae, the transient does not involve nuclear energy. The decay after its peak reflects the damping of differential rotation in the merger remnant. Such outbursts may be detected in the local Universe with current and upcoming optical surveys.

Constraining the spin-down timescale of the white-dwarf progenitors of Type Ia supernovae

Justham (2011) and DiStefano et al.\ (2011) proposed that the white-dwarf progenitor of a Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) may have to spin down before it can explode. As the white dwarf spin-down timescale is not well known theoretically, we here try to constrain it empirically (within the framework of this spin-down model) for progenitor systems that contain a giant donor and for which circumbinary material has been detected after the explosion: we obtain an upper limit of a few $10^{\rm 7} {\rm yr}$. Based on the study of Di Stefano & Kilic (2012) this means that it is too early to rule out the existence of a surviving companion in SNR 0509-67.5.

The Boundary Layer in compact binaries

Disk accretion onto stars leads to the formation of a Boundary Layer (BL) near the stellar surface where the disk makes contact with the star. Albeit a large fraction of the total luminosity of the system originates from this tiny layer connecting the accretion disk and the accreting object, its structure has not been fully understood yet. It is the aim of this work, to obtain more insight into the Boundary Layer around the white dwarf in compact binary systems. There are still many uncertainties concerning the extent and temperature of the BL and the rotation rate of the white dwarf. We perform numerical hydrodynamical simulations, where the problem is treated in a one-dimensional, radial approximation (slim disk). The turbulence is described by the alpha parameter viscosity. We include both cooling from the disk surfaces and radial radiation transport. The radiation energy is treated in the one-temperature approximation. For a given M_dot our results show a strong dependence on the stellar mass and rotation rate. Both, the midplane and the effective temperature rise considerably with increasing stellar mass or decreasing stellar rotation rate. Our simulations further show, that the radiation energy and pressure are indeed important in the BL. However, some models show a low optical depth in the BL, making it necessary to find a better representation for optically thin regions. The combination of a high mass and a small radius, such as in white dwarfs, can lead to an enormous energy release in the BL, provided the WD rotates slowly. Since the radial extent of BLs is typically very small (about 0.02 to 0.05 R_star), this leads to surface temperatures of a few hundred thousand Kelvin. All of our models showed subsonic infall velocities with Mach numbers of < 0.4 at most.

The Boundary Layer in compact binaries [Replacement]

Disk accretion onto stars leads to the formation of a Boundary Layer (BL) near the stellar surface where the disk makes contact with the star. Albeit a large fraction of the total luminosity of the system originates from this tiny layer connecting the accretion disk and the accreting object, its structure has not been fully understood yet. It is the aim of this work, to obtain more insight into the Boundary Layer around the white dwarf in compact binary systems. There are still many uncertainties concerning the extent and temperature of the BL and the rotation rate of the white dwarf. We perform numerical hydrodynamical simulations, where the problem is treated in a one-dimensional, radial approximation (slim disk). The turbulence is described by the alpha parameter viscosity. We include both cooling from the disk surfaces and radial radiation transport. The radiation energy is treated in the one-temperature approximation. For a given M_dot our results show a strong dependence on the stellar mass and rotation rate. Both, the midplane and the effective temperature rise considerably with increasing stellar mass or decreasing stellar rotation rate. Our simulations further show, that the radiation energy and pressure are indeed important in the BL. However, some models show a low optical depth in the BL, making it necessary to find a better representation for optically thin regions. The combination of a high mass and a small radius, such as in white dwarfs, can lead to an enormous energy release in the BL, provided the WD rotates slowly. Since the radial extent of BLs is typically very small (about 0.02 to 0.05 R_star), this leads to surface temperatures of a few hundred thousand Kelvin. All of our models showed subsonic infall velocities with Mach numbers of < 0.4 at most.

 

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