skip to main content

Title: Strongly magnetized accretion in two ultracompact binary systems

We present the discoveries of two of AM CVn systems, Gaia14aae and SDSS J080449.49+161624.8, which show X-ray pulsations at their orbital periods, indicative of magnetically collimated accretion. Both also show indications of higher rates of mass transfer relative to the expectations from binary evolution driven purely by gravitational radiation, based on existing optical data for Gaia14aae, which show a hotter white dwarf temperature than expected from standard evolutionary models, and X-ray data for SDSS J080449.49+161624.8 which show a luminosity 10−100 times higher than those for other AM CVn at similar orbital periods. The higher mass transfer rates could be driven by magnetic braking from the disc wind interacting with the magnetosphere of the tidally locked accretor. We discuss implications of this additional angular momentum transport mechanism for evolution and gravitational wave detectability of AM CVn objects.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Medium: X Size: p. L28-L32
["p. L28-L32"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this

    AM CVn-type systems are ultracompact, helium-accreting binary systems that are evolutionarily linked to the progenitors of thermonuclear supernovae and are expected to be strong Galactic sources of gravitational waves detectable to upcoming space-based interferometers. AM CVn binaries with orbital periods ≲20–23 min exist in a constant high state with a permanently ionized accretion disc. We present the discovery of TIC 378898110, a bright (G = 14.3 mag), nearby (309.3 ± 1.8 pc), high-state AM CVn binary discovered in TESS two-minute-cadence photometry. At optical wavelengths, this is the third-brightest AM CVn binary known. The photometry of the system shows a 23.07172(6) min periodicity, which is likely to be the ‘superhump’ period and implies an orbital period in the range 22–23 min. There is no detectable spectroscopic variability. The system underwent an unusual, year-long brightening event during which the dominant photometric period changed to a shorter period (constrained to 20.5 ± 2.0 min), which we suggest may be evidence for the onset of disc-edge eclipses. The estimated mass transfer rate, $\log (\dot{M} / \mathrm{M_\odot } \, \mathrm{yr}^{-1}) = -6.8 \pm 1.0$, is unusually high and may suggest a high-mass or thermally inflated donor. The binary is detected as an X-ray source, with a flux of $9.2 ^{+4.2}_{-1.8} \times 10^{-13}$ erg cm−2 s−1 in the 0.3–10 keV range. TIC 378898110 is the shortest-period binary system discovered with TESS, and its large predicted gravitational-wave amplitude makes it a compelling verification binary for future space-based gravitational wave detectors.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract Binary systems of a hot subdwarf B (sdB) star + a white dwarf (WD) with orbital periods less than 2–3 hr can come into contact due to gravitational waves and transfer mass from the sdB star to the WD before the sdB star ceases nuclear burning and contracts to become a WD. Motivated by the growing class of observed systems in this category, we study the phases of mass transfer in these systems. We find that because the residual outer hydrogen envelope accounts for a large fraction of an sdB star’s radius, sdB stars can spend a significant amount of time (∼tens of megayears) transferring this small amount of material at low rates (∼10 −10 –10 −9 M ⊙ yr −1 ) before transitioning to a phase where the bulk of their He transfers at much faster rates ( ≳10 −8 M ⊙ yr −1 ). These systems therefore spend a surprising amount of time with Roche-filling sdB donors at orbital periods longer than the range associated with He star models without an envelope. We predict that the envelope transfer phase should be detectable by searching for ellipsoidal modulation of Roche-filling objects with P orb = 30–100 minutes and T eff = 20,000–30,000 K, and that many (≥10) such systems may be found in the Galactic plane after accounting for reddening. We also argue that many of these systems may go through a phase of He transfer that matches the signatures of AM CVn systems, and that some AM CVn systems associated with young stellar populations likely descend from this channel. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Galactic compact binaries with orbital periods shorter than a few hours emit detectable gravitational waves (GWs) at low frequencies. Their GW signals can be detected with the future Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Crucially, they may be useful in the early months of the mission operation in helping to validate LISA's performance in comparison to prelaunch expectations. We present an updated list of 55 candidate LISA-detectable binaries with measured properties, for which we derive distances based on Gaia Data Release 3 astrometry. Based on the known properties from electromagnetic observations, we predict the LISA detectability after 1, 3, 6, and 48 months using Bayesian analysis methods. We distinguish between verification and detectable binaries as being detectable after 3 and 48 months, respectively. We find 18 verification binaries and 22 detectable sources, which triples the number of known LISA binaries over the last few years. These include detached double white dwarfs, AM CVn binaries, one ultracompact X-ray binary, and two hot subdwarf binaries. We find that across this sample the GW amplitude is expected to be measured to ≈10% on average, while the inclination is expected to be determined with ≈15° precision. For detectable binaries, these average errors increase to ≈50% and ≈40°, respectively.

    more » « less

    We present a detailed modelling study of CD-30°11223 (CD-30), a hot subdwarf (sdB)-white dwarf (WD) binary identified as a double detonation supernova progenitor, using the open-source stellar evolution software MESA. We focus on implementing binary evolution models carefully tuned to match the observed characteristics of the system including log g and Teff. For the first time, we account for the structure of the hydrogen envelope throughout the modelling, and find that the inclusion of element diffusion is important for matching the observed radius and temperature. We investigate the two sdB mass solutions (0.47 and 0.54 M⊙) previously proposed for this system, strongly favouring the 0.47 M⊙ solution. The WD cooling age is compared against the sdB age using our models, which suggest an sdB likely older than the WD, contrary to the standard assumption for compact sdB-WD binaries. Subsequently, we propose a possible alternate formation channel for CD-30. We also perform binary evolution modelling of the system to study various aspects such as mass transfer, orbital period evolution, and luminosity evolution. Our models confirm CD-30 as a double detonation supernova progenitor, expected to explode ≈55 Myr from now. The WD accretes an ≈0.17 M⊙ thick helium shell that causes a detonation, leaving a 0.30 M⊙ sdB ejected at ≈750 km s−1. The final 15 Myr of the system are characterized by helium accretion which dominates the system luminosity, possibly resembling an AM CVn-type system.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We report the discovery of ZTF J0127+5258, a compact mass-transferring binary with an orbital period of 13.7 minutes. The system contains a white dwarf accretor, which likely originated as a post–common envelope carbon–oxygen (CO) white dwarf, and a warm donor (Teff,donor= 16,400 ± 1000 K). The donor probably formed during a common envelope phase between the CO white dwarf and an evolving giant that left behind a helium star or white dwarf in a close orbit with the CO white dwarf. We measure gravitational wave–driven orbital inspiral with ∼51σsignificance, which yields a joint constraint on the component masses and mass transfer rate. While the accretion disk in the system is dominated by ionized helium emission, the donor exhibits a mixture of hydrogen and helium absorption lines. Phase-resolved spectroscopy yields a donor radial velocity semiamplitude of 771 ± 27 km s−1, and high-speed photometry reveals that the system is eclipsing. We detect a Chandra X-ray counterpart withLX∼ 3 × 1031erg s−1. Depending on the mass transfer rate, the system will likely either evolve into a stably mass-transferring helium cataclysmic variable, merge to become an R CrB star, or explode as a Type Ia supernova in the next million years. We predict that the Laser Space Interferometer Antenna (LISA) will detect the source with a signal-to-noise ratio of 24 ± 6 after 4 yr of observations. The system is the first LISA-loud mass-transferring binary with an intrinsically luminous donor, a class of sources that provide the opportunity to leverage the synergy between optical and infrared time domain surveys, X-ray facilities, and gravitational-wave observatories to probe general relativity, accretion physics, and binary evolution.

    more » « less