- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- The Astrophysical Journal
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Eclipsing post-common-envelope binaries are highly important for resolving the poorly understood, very short-lived common-envelope phase of stellar evolution. Most hot subdwarfs (sdO/Bs) are the bare helium-burning cores of red giants that have lost almost all of their hydrogen envelope. This mass loss is often triggered by common-envelope interactions with close stellar or even substellar companions. Cool companions to hot subdwarf stars such as late-type stars and brown dwarfs are detectable from characteristic light-curve variations – reflection effects and often eclipses. In the recently published catalog of eclipsing binaries in the Galactic Bulge and in the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) survey, we discovered 125 new eclipsing systems showing a reflection effect seen by visual inspection of the light curves and using a machine-learning algorithm, in addition to the 36 systems previously discovered by the Optical Gravitational Lesing Experiment (OGLE) team. The Eclipsing Reflection Effect Binaries from Optical Surveys (EREBOS) project aims at analyzing all newly discovered eclipsing binaries of the HW Vir type (hot subdwarf + close, cool companion) based on a spectroscopic and photometric follow up to derive the mass distribution of the companions, constrain the fraction of substellar companions, and determine the minimum mass needed to strip off the red-giant envelope. To constrain the nature of the primary we derived the absolute magnitude and the reduced proper motion of all our targets with the help of the parallaxes and proper motions measured by the Gaia mission and compared those to the Gaia white-dwarf candidate catalog. It was possible to derive the nature of a subset of our targets, for which observed spectra are available, by measuring the atmospheric parameter of the primary, confirming that less than 10% of our systems are not sdO/Bs with cool companions but are white dwarfs or central stars of planetary nebula. This large sample of eclipsing hot subdwarfs with cool companions allowed us to derive a significant period distribution for hot subdwarfs with cool companions for the first time showing that the period distribution is much broader than previously thought and is ideally suited to finding the lowest-mass companions to hot subdwarf stars. The comparison with related binary populations shows that the period distribution of HW Vir systems is very similar to WD+dM systems and central stars of planetary nebula with cool companions. In the future, several new photometric surveys will be carried out, which will further increase the sample of this project, providing the potential to test many aspects of common-envelope theory and binary evolution.more » « less
Context. About a third of the hot subdwarfs of spectral type B (sdBs), which are mostly core-helium-burning objects on the extreme horizontal branch, are found in close binaries with cool, low-mass stellar, substellar, or white dwarf companions. They can show light variations due to different phenomena. Aims. Many hot subdwarfs now have space-based light curves with a high signal-to-noise ratio available. We used light curves from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the K2 space mission to look for more sdB binaries. Their light curves can be used to study the hot subdwarf primaries and their companions, and obtained orbital, atmospheric, and absolute parameters for those systems, when combined with other analysis methods. Methods. By classifying the light variations and combining these with the fit of the spectral energy distribution, the distance derived by the parallaxes obtained by Gaia , and the atmospheric parameters, mainly from the literature, we could derive the nature of the primaries and secondaries in 122 (75%) of the known sdB binaries and 82 newly found reflection effect systems. We derived absolute masses, radii, and luminosities for a total of 39 hot subdwarfs with cool, low-mass companions, as well 29 known and newly found sdBs with white dwarf companions. Results. The mass distribution of hot subdwarfs with cool, low-mass stellar and substellar companions, differs from those with white dwarf companions, implying they come from different populations. By comparing the period and minimum companion mass distributions, we find that the reflection effect systems all have M dwarf or brown dwarf companions, and that there seem to be several different populations of hot subdwarfs with white dwarf binaries – one with white dwarf minimum masses around 0.4 M ⊙ , one with longer periods and minimum companion masses up to 0.6 M ⊙ , and at the shortest period, another with white dwarf minimum masses around 0.8 M ⊙ . We also derive the first orbital period distribution for hot subdwarfs with cool, low-mass stellar or substellar systems selected from light variations instead of radial velocity variations. It shows a narrower period distribution, from 1.5 h to 35 h, compared to the distribution of hot subdwarfs with white dwarfs, which ranges from 1 h to 30 days. These period distributions can be used to constrain the previous common-envelope phase.more » « less
We present the results of a search for binary hot subdwarf stars in photometric data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The sample of objects used in this work was a byproduct of another search for pulsating hot subdwarfs, which resulted in the discovery of nearly 400 non-pulsating variable candidates. The periodogram for each object was calculated and a frequency signal with one or more harmonics above the 4 σ detection threshold was used to consider the candidate as a possible binary system. The type of variability was subsequently confirmed by visual inspection. We present a list of 46 binary system candidates that were not previously known as binaries. We also analysed a few example light curves to demonstrate the importance of double checking the variability of the source in the TESS light curves corrected for instrumental signatures. Four objects, TIC 55753808, TIC 118412596, TIC 4999380, and TIC 68834079, which show variations in the TESS-calibrated fluxes, were actually found to be constant. We also found that it might be more appropriate to increase the commonly used 4σ detection threshold in order to avoid the detection of multiple spurious peaks in the periodograms or Fourier transform of the TESS light curves.
We conduct a systematic search for periodic variables in the hot subdwarf catalogue using data from the Zwicky Transient Facility. We present the classification of 67 HW Vir binaries, 496 reflection effect, pulsation or rotation sinusoids, 11 eclipsing signals, and 4 ellipsoidally modulated binaries. Of these, 486 are new discoveries that have not been previously published including a new mass-transferring hot subdwarf binary candidate. These sources were determined by applying the Lomb–Scargle and box least squares periodograms along with manual inspection. We calculated variability statistics on all periodic sources, and compared our results to traditional methods of determining astrophysical variability. We find that ≈60 per cent of variable targets, mostly sinusoidal variability, would have been missed using a traditional varindex cut. Most HW Virs, eclipsing systems, and all ellipsoidal variables were recovered with a varindex >0.02. We also find a significant reddening effect, with some variable hot subdwarfs meshing with the main-sequence stripe in the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Examining the positions of the variable stars in Galactic coordinates, we discover a higher proportion of variable stars within |b| < 25° of the Galactic plane, suggesting that the Galactic plane may be fertile grounds for future discoveries if photometric surveys can effectively process the clustered field.
Context. Hot subdwarfs in close binaries with either M dwarf, brown dwarf, or white dwarf companions show unique light variations. In hot subdwarf binaries with M dwarf or brown dwarf companions, we can observe the so-called reflection effect, while in hot subdwarfs with close white dwarf companions, we find ellipsoidal modulation and/or Doppler beaming. Aims. Analyses of these light variations can be used to derive the mass and radius of the companion and determine its nature. Thereby, we can assume the most probable sdB mass and the radius of the sdB derived by the fit of the spectral energy distribution and the Gaia parallax. Methods. In the high signal-to-noise space-based light curves from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the K2 space mission, several reflection effect binaries and ellipsoidal modulation binaries have been observed with much better quality than with ground-based observations. The high quality of the light curves allowed us to analyze a large sample of sdB binaries with M dwarf or white dwarf companions using LCURVE . Results. For the first time, we can constrain the absolute parameters of 19 companions of reflection effect systems, covering periods from 2.5 to 19 h and with companion masses from the hydrogen-burning limit to early M dwarfs. Moreover, we were able to determine the mass of eight white dwarf companion to hot subdwarf binaries showing ellipsoidal modulations, covering the as-yet unexplored period range of 7 to 19 h. The derived masses of the white dwarf companions show that all but two of the white dwarf companions are most likely helium-core white dwarfs. Combining our results with previously measured rotation velocities allowed us to derive the rotation period of seven sdBs in short-period binaries. In four of those systems, the rotation period of the sdB agrees with a tidally locked orbit, whereas in the other three systems, the sdB rotates significantly more slowly.more » « less