skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 10:00 PM ET on Friday, December 8 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 9 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Bell, Keaton J."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Given its large plate scale of 21″ pixel−1, analyses of data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope must be wary of source confusion from blended light curves, which creates the potential to attribute observed photometric variability to the wrong astrophysical source. We explore the impact of light curve contamination on the detection of fast yellow pulsating supergiant (FYPS) stars as a case study to demonstrate the importance of confirming the source of detected signals in the TESS pixel data. While some of the FYPS signals have already been attributed to contamination from nearby eclipsing binaries, others are suggested to be intrinsic to the supergiant stars. In this work, we carry out a detailed analysis of the TESS pixel data to fit the source locations of the dominant signals reported for 17 FYPS stars with the Python packageTESS_localize. We are able to reproduce the detections of these signals for 14 of these sources, obtaining consistent source locations for four. Three of these originate from contaminants, while the signal reported for BZ Tuc is likely a spurious frequency introduced to the light curve of this 127 day Cepheid by the data processing pipeline. Other signals are not significant enough to be localized with our methods, or have long periods that are difficult to analyze given other TESS systematics. Since no localizable signals hold up as intrinsic pulsation frequencies of the supergiant targets, we argue that unambiguous detection of pulsational variability should be obtained before FYPS are considered a new class of pulsator.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has an exceptionally large plate scale of 21″ px−1, causing most TESS light curves to record the blended light of multiple stars. This creates a danger of misattributing variability observed by TESS to the wrong source, which would invalidate any analysis. We developed a method that can localize the origin of variability on the sky to better than one fifth of a pixel. Given measured frequencies of variability (e.g., from periodogram analysis), we show that the best-fit sinusoid amplitudes to raw light curves extracted from each pixel are distributed in the same way as light from the variable source. The primary assumption of this method is that other nearby stars are not variable at the same frequencies. Essentially, we are using the high frequency resolution of TESS to overcome limitations from its low spatial resolution. We have implemented our method in an open-source Python package,TESS_localize(, that determines the location of a variable source on the sky and the most likely Gaia source given TESS pixel data and a set of observed frequencies of variability. Our method utilizes models of the TESS pixel response function, and we characterize systematics in the residuals of fitting these models to data. We find that even stars more than three pixels outside a photometric aperture can produce significant contaminant signals in the extracted light curves. Given the ubiquity of source blending in TESS light curves, verifying the source of observed variability should be a standard step in TESS analyses.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The asteroseismic radius determination previously reported for the pulsating helium-atmosphere white dwarf star KIC 08626021 is 6σdiscrepant with constraints from Gaia astrometry. This calls into question the other results of the asteroseismic analysis, especially the high (central) oxygen abundance that stellar evolutionary models have been unable to reproduce.

    more » « less

    G 29 − 38 (TIC 422526868) is one of the brightest (V = 13.1) and closest (d = 17.51 pc) pulsating white dwarfs with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere (DAV/ZZ Ceti class). It was observed by the TESS spacecraft in sectors 42 and 56. The atmosphere of G 29 − 38 is polluted by heavy elements that are expected to sink out of visible layers on short time-scales. The photometric TESS data set spans ∼51 d in total, and from this, we identified 56 significant pulsation frequencies, that include rotational frequency multiplets. In addition, we identified 30 combination frequencies in each sector. The oscillation frequencies that we found are associated with g-mode pulsations, with periods spanning from ∼ 260 to ∼ 1400 s. We identified rotational frequency triplets with a mean separation δνℓ = 1 of 4.67 μHz and a quintuplet with a mean separation δνℓ = 2 of 6.67 μHz, from which we estimated a rotation period of about 1.35 ± 0.1 d. We determined a constant period spacing of 41.20 s for ℓ = 1 modes and 22.58 s for ℓ = 2 modes. We performed period-to-period fit analyses and found an asteroseismological model with M⋆/M⊙ = 0.632 ± 0.03, $T_{\rm eff}=11\, 635\pm 178$ K, and log g = 8.048 ± 0.005 (with a hydrogen envelope mass of MH ∼ 5.6 × 10−5M⋆), in good agreement with the values derived from spectroscopy. We obtained an asteroseismic distance of 17.54 pc, which is in excellent agreement with that provided by Gaia (17.51 pc).

    more » « less

    We present the photometric data from TESS for two known ZZ Ceti stars, PG 1541 + 651 and BPM 31594. Before TESS, both objects only had observations from short runs from ground-based facilities, with three and one period detected, respectively. The TESS data allowed the detection of multiple periodicities, 12 for PG 1541 + 651, and six for BPM 31594, which enables us to perform a detailed asteroseismological study. For both objects, we found a representative asteroseismic model with canonical stellar mass ∼0.61M⊙ and thick hydrogen envelopes, thicker than 10−5.3M*. The detection of triplets in the Fourier transform also allowed us to estimate mean rotation periods, being ∼22 h for PG 1541 + 651 and 11.6 h for BPM 31594, which is consistent with a range of values reported for other ZZ Ceti stars.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    PG 1159-035 is the prototype of the PG 1159 hot (pre-)white dwarf pulsators. This important object was observed during the Kepler satellite K2 mission for 69 days in 59 s cadence mode and by the TESS satellite for 25 days in 20 s cadence mode. We present a detailed asteroseismic analysis of those data. We identify a total of 107 frequencies representing 32= 1 modes, 27 frequencies representing 12= 2 modes, and eight combination frequencies. The combination frequencies and the modes with very highkvalues represent new detections. The multiplet structure reveals an average splitting of 4.0 ± 0.4μHz for= 1 and 6.8 ± 0.2μHz for= 2, indicating a rotation period of 1.4 ± 0.1 days in the region of period formation. In the Fourier transform of the light curve, we find a significant peak at 8.904 ± 0.003μHz suggesting a surface rotation period of 1.299 ± 0.002 days. We also present evidence that the observed periods change on timescales shorter than those predicted by current evolutionary models. Our asteroseismic analysis finds an average period spacing for= 1 of 21.28 ± 0.02 s. The= 2 modes have a mean spacing of 12.97 ± 0.4 s. We performed a detailed asteroseismic fit by comparing the observed periods with those of evolutionary models. The best-fit model hasTeff= 129, 600 ± 11 100 K,M*= 0.565 ± 0.024M, andlogg=7.410.54+0.38, within the uncertainties of the spectroscopic determinations. We argue for future improvements in the current models, e.g., on the overshooting in the He-burning stage, as the best-fit model does not predict excitation for all of the pulsations detected in PG 1159-035.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    We present a dedicated search for new pulsating helium-atmosphere (DBV) white dwarfs from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using the McDonald 2.1 m Otto Struve Telescope. In total we observed 55 DB and DBA white dwarfs with spectroscopic temperatures between 19,000 and 35,000 K. We find 19 new DBVs and place upper limits on variability for the remaining 36 objects. In combination with previously known DBVs, we use these objects to provide an update to the empirical extent of the DB instability strip. With our sample of new DBVs, the red edge is better constrained, as we nearly double the number of DBVs known between 20,000 and 24,000 K. We do not find any new DBVs hotter than PG 0112+104, the current hottest DBV is atTeff≈ 31,000 K, but do find pulsations in four DBVs with temperatures between 27,000 and 30,000 K, improving empirical constraints on the poorly defined blue edge. We investigate the ensemble pulsation properties of all currently known DBVs, finding that the weighted mean period and total pulsation power exhibit trends with effective temperature that are qualitatively similar to the pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarfs.

    more » « less
  8. Abstract We report the discovery of pulsations in the extremely low-mass (ELM), likely helium-core white dwarf GD 278 via ground- and space-based photometry. GD 278 was observed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in Sector 18 at a 2 minute cadence for roughly 24 days. The TESS data reveal at least 19 significant periodicities between 2447 and 6729 s, one of which is the longest pulsation period ever detected in a white dwarf. Previous spectroscopy found that this white dwarf is in a 4.61 hr orbit with an unseen >0.4 M ⊙ companion and has T eff = 9230 ± 100 K and log g = 6.627 ± 0.056 , which corresponds to a mass of 0.191 ± 0.013 M ⊙ . Patterns in the TESS pulsation frequencies from rotational splittings appear to reveal a stellar rotation period of roughly 10 hr, making GD 278 the first ELM white dwarf with a measured rotation rate. The patterns inform our mode identification for asteroseismic fits, which, unfortunately, do not reveal a global best-fit solution. Asteroseismology reveals two main solutions roughly consistent with the spectroscopic parameters of this ELM white dwarf, but with vastly different hydrogen-layer masses; future seismic fits could be further improved by using the stellar parallax. GD 278 is now the tenth known pulsating ELM white dwarf; it is only the fifth known to be in a short-period binary, but is the first with extended, space-based photometry. 
    more » « less
  9. null (Ed.)
    Context. Before reaching their quiescent terminal white-dwarf cooling branch, some low-mass helium-core white dwarf stellar models experience a number of nuclear flashes which greatly reduce their hydrogen envelopes. Just before the occurrence of each flash, stable hydrogen burning may be able to drive global pulsations that could be relevant in shedding some light on the internal structure of these stars through asteroseismology, similarly to what occurs with other classes of pulsating white dwarfs. Aims. We present a pulsational stability analysis applied to low-mass helium-core stars on their early white-dwarf cooling branches going through CNO flashes in order to study the possibility that the ε mechanism is able to excite gravity-mode pulsations. We assess the ranges of unstable periods and the corresponding instability domain in the log g  −  T eff plane. Methods. We carried out a nonadiabatic pulsation analysis for low-mass helium-core white-dwarf models with stellar masses between 0.2025 and 0.3630  M ⊙ going through CNO flashes during their early cooling phases. Results. We found that the ε mechanism due to stable hydrogen burning can excite low-order ( ℓ  = 1, 2) gravity modes with periods between ∼80 and 500 s for stars with 0.2025 ≲  M ⋆ / M ⊙  ≲ 0.3630 located in an extended region of the log g  −  T eff diagram, with effective temperature and surface gravity in the ranges 15 000 ≲  T eff  ≲ 38 000 K and 5.8 ≲ log g  ≲ 7.1, respectively. For the sequences that experience multiple CNO flashes, we found that with every consecutive flash, the region of instability becomes wider and the modes are more strongly excited. The magnitudes of the rate of period change for these modes are in the range of ∼10 −10 –10 −11  [s/s]. Conclusions. Since the timescales required for these modes to reach amplitudes large enough to be observable are shorter than their corresponding evolutionary timescales, the detection of pulsations in these stars is feasible. Given the current problems in distinguishing some stars that populate the same region of the log g  −  T eff plane, the eventual detection of short-period pulsations may help in the classification of such stars. Furthermore, if a low-mass white dwarf star were found to pulsate with low-order gravity modes in this region of instability, it would confirm our result that such pulsations can be driven by the ε mechanism. In addition, confirming a rapid rate of period change in these pulsations would support the idea that these stars actually experience CNO flashes, as has been predicted by evolutionary calculations. 
    more » « less
  10. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Long, high-quality time-series data provided by previous space missions such as CoRoT and Kepler have made it possible to derive the evolutionary state of red giant stars, i.e. whether the stars are hydrogen-shell burning around an inert helium core or helium-core burning, from their individual oscillation modes. We utilize data from the Kepler mission to develop a tool to classify the evolutionary state for the large number of stars being observed in the current era of K2, TESS, and for the future PLATO mission. These missions provide new challenges for evolutionary state classification given the large number of stars being observed and the shorter observing duration of the data. We propose a new method, Clumpiness, based upon a supervised classification scheme that uses ‘summary statistics’ of the time series, combined with distance information from the Gaia mission to predict the evolutionary state. Applying this to red giants in the APOKASC catalogue, we obtain a classification accuracy of $\sim 91{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ for the full 4 yr of Kepler data, for those stars that are either only hydrogen-shell burning or also helium-core burning. We also applied the method to shorter Kepler data sets, mimicking CoRoT, K2, and TESS achieving an accuracy $\gt 91{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ even for the 27 d time series. This work paves the way towards fast, reliable classification of vast amounts of relatively short-time-span data with a few, well-engineered features. 
    more » « less