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Discovery, TESS Characterization, and Modeling of Pulsations in the Extremely Low-mass White Dwarf GD 278Abstract 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 couldmore »
A new instability domain of CNO-flashing low-mass He-core stars on their early white-dwarf cooling branchesContext. 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 locatedmore »
Context. The possible existence of warm ( T eff ∼ 19 000 K) pulsating DA white dwarf (WD) stars, hotter than ZZ Ceti stars, was predicted in theoretical studies more than 30 yr ago. These studies reported the occurrence of g -mode pulsational instabilities due to the κ mechanism acting in the partial ionization zone of He below the H envelope in models of DA WDs with very thin H envelopes ( M H / M ⋆ ≲ 10 −10 ). However, to date, no pulsating warm DA WD has been discovered, despite the varied theoretical and observational evidence suggesting that a fraction of WDs should be formed with a range of very low H content. Aims. We re-examine the pulsational predictions for such WDs on the basis of new full evolutionary sequences. We analyze all the warm DAs observed by the TESS satellite up to Sector 9 in order to search for the possible pulsational signal. Methods. We computed WD evolutionary sequences of masses 0.58 and 0.80 M ⊙ with H content in the range −14.5 ≲ log( M H / M ⋆ )≲ − 10, appropriate for the study of pulsational instability of warm DA WDs. Initial models were extracted from progenitors that were evolvedmore »
TESS first look at evolved compact pulsators: Asteroseismology of the pulsating helium-atmosphere white dwarf TIC 257459955Context. Pulsation frequencies reveal the interior structures of white dwarf stars, shedding light on the properties of these compact objects that represent the final evolutionary stage of most stars. Two-minute cadence photometry from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) records pulsation signatures from bright white dwarfs over the entire sky. Aims. As part of a series of first-light papers from TESS Asteroseismic Science Consortium Working Group 8, we aim to demonstrate the sensitivity of TESS data, by measuring pulsations of helium-atmosphere white dwarfs in the DBV instability strip, and what asteroseismic analysis of these measurements can reveal about their stellar structures. We present a case study of the pulsating DBV WD 0158−160 that was observed as TIC 257459955 with the two-minute cadence for 20.3 days in TESS Sector 3. Methods. We measured the frequencies of variability of TIC 257459955 with an iterative periodogram and prewhitening procedure. The measured frequencies were compared to calculations from two sets of white dwarf models to constrain the stellar parameters: the fully evolutionary models from LPCODE and the structural models from WDEC . Results. We detected and measured the frequencies of nine pulsation modes and eleven combination frequencies of WD 0158−160 to ∼0.01 μ Hzmore »