Posts Tagged white dwarf

Recent Postings from white dwarf

A Numerical Model for Accretion in Intermediate Polars with Dipolar Magnetic Fields

A three-dimensional numerical model for an accretion process investigation in the magnetosphere of a white dwarf in magnetic cataclysmic variables is developed. The model assumes that the white dwarf has a dipole magnetic field with its symmetry axis inclined to the rotation axis. The model is based on the equations of modified MHD, that describe the mean flow parameters in the wave MHD turbulence. Diffusion of the magnetic field and radiative heating and cooling are taken into account. The suitability of the model is confirmed by modeling the accretion in a typical intermediate polar. The computations show that a magnetosphere forms around the accretor, with the accretion occurring via columns. The accretion columns have a curtain-like shape, and arc-shaped zones of energy release form on the surface of the white dwarf in the magnetic poles area as a result of the matter infall.

Stellar laboratories. VI. New Mo IV - VII oscillator strengths and the molybdenum 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. To identify molybdenum lines in the ultraviolet (UV) spectra of the DA-type white dwarf G191-B2B and the DO-type white dwarf RE0503-289 and to determine their photospheric Mo abundances, newly calculated Mo IV - VII oscillator strengths are used. We identified twelve Mo V and nine Mo VI lines in the UV spectrum of RE0503-289 and measured a photospheric Mo abundance of 1.2 - 3.0 x 10**-4 (mass fraction, 22500 - 56400 times the solar abundance). In addition, from the As V and Sn IV resonance lines, we measured mass fractions of arsenic (0.5 - 1.3 x 10**-5, about 300 - 1200 times solar) and tin (1.3 - 3.2 x 10**-4, about 14300 35200 times solar). For G191-B2B, upper limits were determined for the abundances of Mo (5.3 x 10**-7, 100 times solar) and, in addition, for Kr (1.1 x 10**-6, 10 times solar) and Xe (1.7 x 10**-7, 10 times solar). The arsenic abundance was determined (2.3 - 5.9 x 10**-7, about 21 - 53 times solar). A new, registered German Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (GAVO) service, TOSS, has been constructed to provide weighted oscillator strengths and transition probabilities. Reliable measurements and calculations of atomic data are a prerequisite for stellar-atmosphere modeling. Observed Mo V - VI line profiles in the UV spectrum of the white dwarf RE0503-289 were well reproduced with our newly calculated oscillator strengths. For the first time, this allowed to determine the photospheric Mo abundance in a white dwarf.

White Dwarf Mergers on Adaptive Meshes I. Methodology and Code Verification

The Type Ia supernova progenitor problem is one of the most perplexing and exciting problems in astrophysics, requiring detailed numerical modeling to complement observations of these explosions. One possible progenitor that has merited recent theoretical attention is the white dwarf merger scenario, which has the potential to naturally explain many of the observed characteristics of Type Ia supernovae. To date there have been relatively few self-consistent simulations of merging white dwarf systems using mesh-based hydrodynamics. This is the first paper in a series describing simulations of these systems using a hydrodynamics code with adaptive mesh refinement. In this paper we describe our numerical methodology and discuss our implementation in the compressible hydrodynamics code CASTRO, which solves the Euler equations, and the Poisson equation for self-gravity, and couples the gravitational and rotation forces to the hydrodynamics. Standard techniques for coupling gravitation and rotation forces to the hydrodynamics do not adequately conserve the total energy of the system for our problem, but recent advances in the literature allow progress and we discuss our implementation here. We present a set of test problems demonstrating the extent to which our software sufficiently models a system where large amounts of mass are advected on the computational domain over long timescales. Future papers in this series will describe our treatment of the initial conditions of these systems and will examine the early phases of the merger to determine its viability for triggering a thermonuclear detonation.

White Dwarf Mergers on Adaptive Meshes I. Methodology and Code Verification [Replacement]

The Type Ia supernova progenitor problem is one of the most perplexing and exciting problems in astrophysics, requiring detailed numerical modeling to complement observations of these explosions. One possible progenitor that has merited recent theoretical attention is the white dwarf merger scenario, which has the potential to naturally explain many of the observed characteristics of Type Ia supernovae. To date there have been relatively few self-consistent simulations of merging white dwarf systems using mesh-based hydrodynamics. This is the first paper in a series describing simulations of these systems using a hydrodynamics code with adaptive mesh refinement. In this paper we describe our numerical methodology and discuss our implementation in the compressible hydrodynamics code CASTRO, which solves the Euler equations, and the Poisson equation for self-gravity, and couples the gravitational and rotation forces to the hydrodynamics. Standard techniques for coupling gravitation and rotation forces to the hydrodynamics do not adequately conserve the total energy of the system for our problem, but recent advances in the literature allow progress and we discuss our implementation here. We present a set of test problems demonstrating the extent to which our software sufficiently models a system where large amounts of mass are advected on the computational domain over long timescales. Future papers in this series will describe our treatment of the initial conditions of these systems and will examine the early phases of the merger to determine its viability for triggering a thermonuclear detonation.

Empirical consequential angular momentum loss can solve long standing problems of CV evolution

The observed orbital period distribution of cataclysmic variables (CVs), the space density derived from observations, and the observed orbital period minimum are known to disagree with theoretical predictions since decades. More recently, the white dwarf (WD) masses in CVs have been found to significantly exceed those of single WDs, which is in contrast to theoretical expectations as well. We here claim that all these problems are related and can be solved if CVs with low-mass white dwarfs are driven into dynamically unstable mass transfer due to consequential angular momentum loss (CAML). Indeed, assuming CAML increases as a function of decreasing white dwarf mass can bring into agreement the predictions of binary population models and the observed properties of the CV population. We speculate that a common envelope like evolution of CVs with low-mass WDs following a nova eruption might be the physical process behind our empirical prescription of CAML.

A comparative analysis of the observed white dwarf cooling sequence from globular clusters

We report our study of features at the observed red end of the white dwarf cooling sequences for three Galactic globular clusters: NGC\,6397, 47\,Tucanae and M\,4. We use deep colour-magnitude diagrams constructed from archival Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) to systematically investigate the blue turn at faint magnitudes and the age determinations for each cluster. We find that the age difference between NGC\,6397 and 47\,Tuc is 1.98$^{+0.44}_{-0.26}$\,Gyr, consistent with the picture that metal-rich halo clusters were formed later than metal-poor halo clusters. We self-consistently include the effect of metallicity on the progenitor age and the initial-to-final mass relation. In contrast with previous investigations that invoked a single white dwarf mass for each cluster, the data shows a spread of white dwarf masses that better reproduce the shape and location of the blue turn. This effect alone, however, does not completely reproduce the observational data - the blue turn retains some mystery. In this context, we discuss several other potential problems in the models. These include possible partial mixing of H and He in the atmosphere of white dwarf stars, the lack of a good physical description of the collision-induced absorption process and uncertainties in the opacities at low temperatures. The latter are already known to be significant in the description of the cool main sequence. Additionally, we find that the present day local mass function of NGC\,6397 is consistent with a top-heavy type, while 47\,Tuc presents a bottom-heavy profile.

A large, long-lived structure near the trojan L5 point in the post common-envelope binary SDSS J1021+1744

SDSS J1021+1744 is a detached, eclipsing white dwarf / M dwarf binary discovered in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Outside the primary eclipse, the light curves of such systems are usually smooth and characterised by low-level variations caused by tidal distortion and heating of the M star component. Early data on SDSS J1021+1744 obtained in June 2012 was unusual in showing a dip in flux of uncertain origin shortly after the white dwarf's eclipse. Here we present high-time resolution, multi-wavelength observations of 35 more eclipses over 1.3 years, showing that the dip has a lifetime extending over many orbits. Moreover the "dip" is in fact a series of dips that vary in depth, number and position, although they are always placed in the phase interval 1.06 to 1.26 after the white dwarf's eclipse, near the L5 point in this system. Since SDSS J1021+1744 is a detached binary, it follows that the dips are caused by the transit of the white dwarf by material around the Lagrangian L5 point. A possible interpretation is that they are the signatures of prominences, a phenomenon already known from H-alpha observations of rapidly rotating single stars as well as binaries. What makes SDSS J1021+1744 peculiar is that the material is dense enough to block continuum light. The dips appear to have finally faded out around 2015 May after the first detection by Parsons et al. in 2012, suggesting a lifetime of years.

A Dark Spot on a Massive White Dwarf

We present the serendipitous discovery of eclipse-like events around the massive white dwarf SDSS J152934.98+292801.9 (hereafter J1529+2928). We selected J1529+2928 for time-series photometry based on its spectroscopic temperature and surface gravity, which place it near the ZZ Ceti instability strip. Instead of pulsations, we detect photometric dips from this white dwarf every 38 minutes. Follow-up optical spectroscopy observations with Gemini reveal no significant radial velocity variations, ruling out stellar and brown dwarf companions. A disintegrating planet around this white dwarf cannot explain the observed light curves in different filters. Given the short period, the source of the photometric dips must be a dark spot that comes into view every 38 min due to the rotation of the white dwarf. Our optical spectroscopy does not show any evidence of Zeeman splitting of the Balmer lines, limiting the magnetic field strength to B<70 kG. Since up to 15% of white dwarfs display kG magnetic fields, such eclipse-like events should be common around white dwarfs. We discuss the potential implications of this discovery on transient surveys targeting white dwarfs, like the K2 mission and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

Evidence for Gas from a Disintegrating Extrasolar Asteroid

We report high-resolution spectroscopic observations of WD 1145+017 -- a white dwarf that recently has been found to be transitted by multiple asteroid-sized objects within its tidal radius. We have discovered numerous circumstellar absorption lines with linewidths of $\sim$ 300 km s$^{-1}$ from Mg, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe and Ni, possibly from several gas streams produced by collisions among the actively disintegrating objects. The atmosphere of WD 1145+017 is polluted with 11 heavy elements, including O, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti, V:, Cr, Mn, Fe and Ni. Evidently, we are witnessing the active disintegration and subsequent accretion of an extrasolar asteroid.

Discovery of an eclipsing dwarf nova in the ancient nova shell Te 11

We report on the discovery of an eclipsing dwarf nova (DN) inside the peculiar, bilobed nebula Te 11. Modelling of high-speed photometry of the eclipse finds the accreting white dwarf to have a mass 1.18 M$_\odot$ and temperature 13 kK. The donor spectral type of M2.5 results in a distance of 330 pc, colocated with Barnard's loop at the edge of the Orion-Eridanus superbubble. The perplexing morphology and observed bow shock of the slowly-expanding nebula may be explained by strong interactions with the dense interstellar medium in this region. We match the DN to the historic nova of 483 CE in Orion and postulate that the nebula is the remnant of this eruption. This connection supports the millennia time scale of the post-nova transition from high to low mass-transfer rates. Te 11 constitutes an important benchmark system for CV and nova studies as the only eclipsing binary out of just three DNe with nova shells.

Doppler-imaging of the planetary debris disc at the white dwarf SDSS J122859.93+104032.9

Debris discs which orbit white dwarfs are signatures of remnant planetary systems. We present twelve years of optical spectroscopy of the metal-polluted white dwarf SDSS J1228+1040, which shows a steady variation in the morphology of the 8600 {\AA} Ca II triplet line profiles from the gaseous component of its debris disc. We identify additional emission lines of O I, Mg I, Mg II, Fe II and Ca II in the deep co-added spectra. These emission features (including Ca H & K) exhibit a wide range in strength and morphology with respect to each other and to the Ca II triplet, indicating different intensity distributions of these ionic species within the disc. Using Doppler tomography we show that the evolution of the Ca II triplet profile can be interpreted as the precession of a fixed emission pattern with a period in the range 24-30 years. The Ca II line profiles vary on time-scales that are broadly consistent with general relativistic precession of the debris disc.

A wide binary trigger for white dwarf pollution

Metal pollution in white dwarf atmospheres is likely to be a signature of remnant planetary systems. Most explanations for this pollution predict a sharp decrease in the number of polluted systems with white dwarf cooling age. Observations do not confirm this trend, and metal pollution in old (1-5 Gyr) white dwarfs is difficult to explain. We propose an alternative, time-independent mechanism to produce the white dwarf pollution. The orbit of a wide binary companion can be perturbed by Galactic tides, approaching close to the primary star for the first time after billions of years of evolution on the white dwarf branch. We show that such a close approach perturbs a planetary system orbiting the white dwarf, scattering planetesimals onto star-grazing orbits, in a manner that could pollute the white dwarf's atmosphere. Our estimates find that this mechanism is likely to contribute to metal pollution, alongside other mechanisms, in up to a few percent of an observed sample of white dwarfs with wide binary companions, independent of white dwarf age. This age independence is the key difference between this wide binary mechanism and others mechanisms suggested in the literature to explain white dwarf pollution. Current observational samples are not large enough to assess whether this mechanism makes a significant contribution to the population of polluted white dwarfs, for which better constraints on the wide binary population are required, such as those that will be obtained in the near future with Gaia.

Discovery of near-ultraviolet counterparts to millisecond pulsars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae

We report the discovery of the likely white dwarf companions to radio millisecond pulsars 47 Tuc Q and 47 Tuc S in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. These blue stars were found in near-ultraviolet images from the Hubble Space Telescope for which we derived accurate absolute astrometry, and are located at positions consistent with the radio coordinates to within 0.016 arcsec (0.2sigma). We present near-ultraviolet and optical colours for the previously identified companion to millisecond pulsar 47 Tuc U, and we unambiguously confirm the tentative prior identifications of the optical counterparts to 47 Tuc T and 47 Tuc Y. For the latter, we present its radio-timing solution for the first time. We find that all five near-ultraviolet counterparts have U300-B390 colours that are consistent with He white dwarf cooling models for masses ~0.16-0.3 Msun and cooling ages within ~0.1-6 Gyr. The Ha-R625 colours of 47 Tuc U and 47 Tuc T indicate the presence of a strong Ha absorption line, as expected for white dwarfs with an H envelope.

Discovery of near-ultraviolet counterparts to millisecond pulsars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae [Replacement]

We report the discovery of the likely white dwarf companions to radio millisecond pulsars 47 Tuc Q and 47 Tuc S in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. These blue stars were found in near-ultraviolet images from the Hubble Space Telescope for which we derived accurate absolute astrometry, and are located at positions consistent with the radio coordinates to within 0.016 arcsec (0.2sigma). We present near-ultraviolet and optical colours for the previously identified companion to millisecond pulsar 47 Tuc U, and we unambiguously confirm the tentative prior identifications of the optical counterparts to 47 Tuc T and 47 Tuc Y. For the latter, we present its radio-timing solution for the first time. We find that all five near-ultraviolet counterparts have U300-B390 colours that are consistent with He white dwarf cooling models for masses ~0.16-0.3 Msun and cooling ages within ~0.1-6 Gyr. The Ha-R625 colours of 47 Tuc U and 47 Tuc T indicate the presence of a strong Ha absorption line, as expected for white dwarfs with an H envelope.

Growing White Dwarfs to the Chandrasekhar Limit: The Parameter Space of the Single Degenerate SNIa Channel

Can a white dwarf, accreting hydrogen-rich matter from a non-degenerate companion star, ever exceed the Chandrasekhar mass and explode as a type Ia supernova? We explore the range of accretion rates that allow a white dwarf (WD) to secularly grow in mass, and derive limits on the accretion rate and on the initial mass that will allow it to reach $1.4M_\odot$ --- the Chandrasekhar mass. We follow the evolution through a long series of hydrogen flashes, during which a thick helium shell accumulates. This determines the effective helium mass accretion rate for long-term, self-consistent evolutionary runs with helium flashes. We find that net mass accumulation always occurs despite helium flashes. Although the amount of mass lost during the first few helium shell flashes is a significant fraction of that accumulated prior to the flash, that fraction decreases with repeated helium shell flashes. Eventually no mass is ejected at all during subsequent flashes. This unexpected result occurs because of continual heating of the WD interior by the helium shell flashes near its surface. The effect of heating is to lower the electron degeneracy throughout the WD, and especially in the outer layers. This key result yields helium burning that is quasi-steady state, instead of explosive. We thus find a remarkably large parameter space within which long-term, self-consistent simulations show that a WD can grow in mass and reach the Chandrasekhar limit, despite its helium flashes.

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.

Effects of strong magnetic fields and rotation on white dwarf structure [Replacement]

In this work we compute models for relativistic white dwarfs in the presence of strong magnetic fields. These models possibly contribute to super-luminous SNIa. With an assumed axi-symmetric and poloidal magnetic field, we study the possibility of existence of super-Chandrasekhar magnetized white dwarfs by solving numerically the Einstein-Maxwell equations, by means of a pseudo-spectral method. We obtain a self-consistent rotating and non-rotating magnetized white dwarf models. According to our results, a maximum mass for a static magnetized white dwarf is 2.13 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ in the Newtonian case and 2.09 $\rm{M_{\odot}}$ while taking into account general relativistic effects. Furthermore, we present results for rotating magnetized white dwarfs. The maximum magnetic field strength reached at the center of white dwarfs is of the order of $10^{15}\,$G in the static case, whereas for magnetized white dwarfs, rotating with the Keplerian angular velocity, is of the order of $10^{14}\,$G.

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) [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 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 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 [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 [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.

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 [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.

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.

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.

 

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