200 research outputs found

    Spectroscopic analysis of DA white dwarfs from the McCook & Sion catalog

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    For some years now, we have been gathering optical spectra of DA white dwarfs in an effort to study and define the empirical ZZ Ceti instability strip. However, we have recently expanded this survey to include all the DA white dwarfs in the McCook & Sion catalog down to a limiting visual magnitude of V=17.5. We present here a spectroscopic analysis of over 1000 DA white dwarfs from this ongoing survey. We have several specific areas of interest most notably the hot DAO white dwarfs, the ZZ Ceti instability strip, and the DA+dM binary systems. Furthermore, we present a comparison of the ensemble properties of our sample with those of other large surveys of DA white dwarfs, paying particular attention to the distribution of mass as a function of effective temperature.Comment: 8 pages, 7 figures, to appear in Journal of Physics Conference Proceedings for the 16th European White Dwarf Worksho

    Accretion and activity on the post-common-envelope binary RR~Cae

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    Current scenarios for the evolution of interacting close binaries - such as cataclysmic variables (CVs) - rely mainly on our understanding of low-mass star angular momentum loss (AML) mechanisms. The coupling of stellar wind with its magnetic field, i.e., magnetic braking, is the most promising mechanism to drive AML in these stars. There are basically two properties driving magnetic braking: the stellar magnetic field and the stellar wind. Understanding the mechanisms that drive AML therefore requires a comprehensive understanding of these two properties. RRCae is a well-known nearby (d=20pc) eclipsing DA+M binary with an orbital period of P=7.29h. The system harbors a metal-rich cool white dwarf (WD) and a highly active M-dwarf locked in synchronous rotation. The metallicity of the WD suggests that wind accretion is taking place, which provides a good opportunity to obtain the mass-loss rate of the M-dwarf component. We analyzed multi-epoch time-resolved high-resolution spectra of RRCae in search for traces of magnetic activity and accretion. We selected a number of well-known activity indicators and studied their short and long-term behavior. Indirect-imaging tomographic techniques were also applied to provide the surface brightness distribution of the magnetically active M-dwarf, and reveals a polar feature similar to those observed in fast-rotating solar-type stars. The blue part of the spectrum was modeled using a atmosphere model to constrain the WD properties and its metal enrichment. The latter was used to improve the determination of the mass-accretion rate from the M-dwarf wind. The presence of metals in the WD spectrum suggests that this component arises from accretion of the M-dwarf wind. A model fit to the WD gives Teff=(7260+/-250)K and logg=(7.8+/-0.1) dex with a metallicity of =(-2.8+/-0.1)dex, and a mass-accretion rate of dotMacc=(7+/-2)x1e-16Msun/yr.Comment: 14 pages, 7 Figures, 6 Table

    New Insights into the Problem of the Surface Gravity Distribution of Cool DA White Dwarfs

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    We review at length the longstanding problem in the spectroscopic analysis of cool hydrogen-line (DA) white dwarfs (Teff < 13,000 K) where gravities are significantly higher than those found in hotter DA stars. The first solution that has been proposed for this problem is a mild and systematic helium contamination from convective mixing that would mimic the high gravities. We constrain this scenario by determining the helium abundances in six cool DA white dwarfs using high-resolution spectra from the Keck I 10-m telescope. We obtain no detections, with upper limits as low as He/H = 0.04 in some cases. This allows us to put this scenario to rest for good. We also extend our model grid to lower temperatures using improved Stark profiles with non-ideal gas effects from Tremblay & Bergeron and find that the gravity distribution of cool objects remains suspiciously high. Finally, we find that photometric masses are, on average, in agreement with expected values, and that the high-log g problem is so far unique to the spectroscopic approach.Comment: 44 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa
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