Binaries discovered by the SPY project I. HE 1047-0436: a subdwarf B + white dwarf system

Astronomy and Astrophysics (Impact Factor: 5.08). 09/2001; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361:20011223
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT In the course of our search for double degenerate binaries as potential progenitors of type Ia supernovae with the UVES spectrograph at the ESO VLT (ESO SN Ia Progenitor surveY - SPY) we discovered that the sdB star HE 1047-0436 is radial velocity variable. The orbital period of 1.213253d, a semi-amplitude of 94km/s, and a minimum mass of the invisible companion of 0.44Msol are derived from the analysis of the radial velocity curve. We use an upper limit on the projected rotational velocity of the sdB star to constrain the system inclination and the companion mass to M>0.71Msol, bringing the total mass of the system closer to the Chandrasekhar limit. However, the system will merge due to loss of angular momentum via gravitational wave radiation only after several Hubble times. Atmospheric parameters and metal abundances are also derived. The resulting values are typical for sdB stars. Comment: A&A Letters, accepted, 4 pages, 5 figures

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    ABSTRACT: We describe new radial velocity and X-ray observations of extremely low-mass white dwarfs (ELM WDs, ~0.2 Msol) in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 4 and the MMT Hypervelocity Star survey. We identify four new short period binaries, including two merger systems. These observations bring the total number of short period binary systems identified in our survey to 20. No main-sequence or neutron star companions are visible in the available optical photometry, radio, and X-ray data. Thus, the companions are most likely WDs. Twelve of these systems will merge within a Hubble time due to gravitational wave radiation. We have now tripled the number of known merging WD systems. We discuss the characteristics of this merger sample and potential links to underluminous supernovae, extreme helium stars, AM CVn systems, and other merger products. We provide new observational tests of the WD mass-period distribution and cooling models for ELM WDs. We also find evidence for a new formation channel for single low-mass WDs through binary mergers of two lower mass objects. Comment: ApJ, in press
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2010; · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although several dozen double white dwarfs (DWDs) have been observed, for many the exact nature of the evolutionary channel(s) by which they form remains uncertain. The canonical explanation calls for the progenitor binary system to undergo two subsequent mass-transfer events, both of which are unstable and lead to a common envelope (CE). However, it has been shown that if both CE events obey the standard alpha-prescription (parametrizing energy loss), it is not possible to reproduce all of the observed systems. The gamma-prescription was proposed as an alternative to this description, instead parametrizing the fraction of angular momentum carried away in dynamical-timescale mass loss. In this paper, we analyze simultaneous energy and angular-momentum conservation, and show that the gamma-prescription cannot adequately describe a CE event for an arbitrary binary, nor can the first phase of mass loss always be understood in general as a dynamical-timescale event. We consider in detail the first episode of mass transfer in binary systems with initially low companion masses, with a primary mass in the range 1.0--1.3 solar masses and an initial mass ratio between the secondary and primary stars of 0.83--0.92. In these systems, the first episode of dramatic mass loss may be stable, non-conservative mass transfer. This strips the donor's envelope and dramatically raises the mass ratio; the considered progenitor binary systems can then evolve into DWDs after passing through a single CE during the second episode of mass loss. We find that such a mechanism reproduces the properties of the observed DWD systems which have an older component with less than approximately 0.46 solar masses and mass ratios between the younger and older WDs greater than 1.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2011; · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The project Massive Unseen Companions to Hot Faint Underluminous Stars from SDSS (MUCHFUSS) aims at finding sdBs with compact companions like supermassive white dwarfs (M>1.0 Msun), neutron stars or black holes. The existence of such systems is predicted by binary evolution theory and recent discoveries indicate that they are likely to exist in our Galaxy. A determination of the orbital parameters is sufficient to put a lower limit on the companion mass by calculating the binary mass function. If this lower limit exceeds the Chandrasekhar mass and no sign of a companion is visible in the spectra, the existence of a massive compact companion is proven without the need for any additional assumptions. We identified about 1100 hot subdwarf stars from the SDSS by colour selection and visual inspection of their spectra. Stars with high velocities have been reobserved and individual SDSS spectra have been analysed. In total 127 radial velocity variable subdwarfs have been discovered. Binaries with high RV shifts and binaries with moderate shifts within short timespans have the highest probability of hosting massive compact companions. Atmospheric parameters of 69 hot subdwarfs in these binary systems have been determined by means of a quantitative spectral analysis. The atmospheric parameter distribution of the selected sample does not differ from previously studied samples of hot subdwarfs. The systems are considered the best candidates to search for massive compact companions by follow-up time resolved spectroscopy.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 03/2011; 530. · 5.08 Impact Factor

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