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    We constrain the orbital period (Porb) distribution of low-mass detached main-sequence eclipsing binaries (EBs) with light-curves from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which provides a well-understood selection function and sensitivity to faint stars. At short periods (Porb ≲ 2 d), binaries are predicted to evolve significantly due to magnetic braking (MB), which shrinks orbits and ultimately brings detached binaries into contact. The period distribution is thus a sensitive probe of MB. We find that the intrinsic period distribution of low-mass (0.1 ≲ M1/M⊙ < 0.9) binaries is basically flat (${\rm d}N/{\rm d}P_{\rm orb} \propto P_{\rm orb}^0$) from Porb = 10 d down to the contact limit. This is strongly inconsistent with predictions of classical MB models based on the Skumanich relation, which are widely used in binary evolution calculations and predict ${\rm d}N/{\rm d}P_{\rm orb} \propto P_{\rm orb}^{7/3}$ at short periods. The observed distributions are best reproduced by models in which the magnetic field saturates at short periods with a MB torque that scales roughly as $\dot{J}\propto P_{\rm orb}^{-1}$, as opposed to $\dot{J} \propto P_{\rm orb}^{-3}$ in the standard Skumanich law. We also find no significant difference between the period distributions of binaries containing fully and partially convective stars. Our results confirmmore »that a saturated MB law, which was previously found to describe the spin-down of rapidly rotating isolated M dwarfs, also operates in tidally locked binaries. We advocate using saturated MB models in binary evolution calculations. Our work supports previous suggestions that MB in cataclysmic variables (CVs) is much weaker than assumed in the standard evolutionary model, unless mass transfer leads to significant additional angular momentum loss in CVs.

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    TOI-1259 consists of a transiting exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star, with a bound outer white dwarf (WDs) companion. Less than a dozen systems with this architecture are known. We conduct follow-up spectroscopy on the WD TOI-1259B using the Large Binocular Telescope to better characterize it. We observe only strong hydrogen lines, making TOI-1259B a DA WD. We see no evidence of heavy element pollution, which would have been evidence of planetary material around the WD. Such pollution is seen in $\sim 25{-}50{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of WDs, but it is unknown if this rate is higher or lower in TOI-1259-like systems that contain a known planet. Our spectroscopy permits an improved WD age measurement of $4.05^{+1.00}_{-0.42}$ Gyr, which matches gyrochronology of the main-sequence star. This is the first of an expanded sample of similar binaries that will allow us to calibrate these dating methods and provide a new perspective on planets in binaries.

  3. Abstract

    White dwarf (WD) stars evolve simply and predictably, making them reliable age indicators. However, self-consistent validation of the methods for determining WD total ages has yet to be widely performed. This work uses 1565 wide (>100 au) WD+WD binaries and 24 new triples containing at least two WDs to test the accuracy and validity of WD total age determinations. For these 1589 wide double WD binaries and triples, we derive the total age of each WD using photometric data from all-sky surveys, in conjunction with Gaia parallaxes and current hydrogen atmosphere WD models. Ignoring the initial-to-final mass relation and considering only WD cooling ages, we find that roughly 21%–36% of the more massive WDs in a system have a shorter cooling age. Since more massive WDs should be born as more massive main-sequence stars, we interpret this unphysical disagreement as evidence of prior mergers or the presence of an unresolved companion, suggesting that roughly 21%–36% of wide WD+WD binaries were once triples. Among the 423 wide WD+WD pairs that pass high-fidelity cuts, we find that 25% total age uncertainties are generally appropriate for WDs with masses >0.63Mand temperatures <12,000 K and provide suggested inflation factors for age uncertainties formore »higher-mass WDs. Overall, WDs return reliable stellar ages, but we detail cases where the total ages are least reliable, especially for WDs <0.63M.

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  4. ABSTRACT Characterizing the predicted environments of dwarf galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is becoming increasingly important as next-generation surveys push sensitivity limits into this low-mass regime at cosmological distances. We study the environmental effects of LMC-mass haloes (M200m ∼ 1011 M⊙) on their populations of satellites (M⋆ ≥ 104 M⊙) using a suite of zoom-in simulations from the Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. Our simulations predict significant hot coronas with T ∼ 105 K and Mgas ∼ 109.5 M⊙. We identify signatures of environmental quenching in dwarf satellite galaxies, particularly for satellites with intermediate mass (M⋆ = 106–107 M⊙). The gas content of such objects indicates ram pressure as the likely quenching mechanism, sometimes aided by star formation feedback. Satellites of LMC-mass hosts replicate the stellar mass dependence of the quiescent fraction found in satellites of Milky Way-mass hosts (i.e. that the quiescent fraction increases as stellar mass decreases). Satellites of LMC-mass hosts have a wider variety of quenching times when compared to the strongly bimodal distribution of quenching times of nearby centrals. Finally, we identify significant tidal stellar structures around four of our six LMC analogues, suggesting that stellar streams may be common. These tidal features originatedmore »from satellites on close orbits, extend to ∼80 kpc from the central galaxy, and contain ∼106–107 M⊙ of stars.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 6, 2023

    We analyse two binary systems containing giant stars, V723 Mon (‘the Unicorn’) and 2M04123153+6738486 (‘the Giraffe’). Both giants orbit more massive but less luminous companions, previously proposed to be mass-gap black holes. Spectral disentangling reveals luminous companions with star-like spectra in both systems. Joint modelling of the spectra, light curves, and spectral energy distributions robustly constrains the masses, temperatures, and radii of both components: the primaries are luminous, cool giants ($T_{\rm eff,\, giant} = 3800$ and $4000\, \rm K$, $R_{\rm giant}= 22.5$ and $25\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) with exceptionally low masses ($M_{\rm giant} \approx 0.4\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) that likely fill their Roche lobes. The secondaries are only slightly warmer subgiants ($T_{\rm eff,\, 2} = 5800$ and $5150\, \rm K$, $R_2= 8.3$ and $9\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) and thus are consistent with observed UV limits that would rule out main-sequence stars with similar masses ($M_2 \approx 2.8$ and ${\approx}1.8\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$). In the Unicorn, rapid rotation blurs the spectral lines of the subgiant, making it challenging to detect even at wavelengths where it dominates the total light. Both giants have surface abundances indicative of CNO processing and subsequent envelope stripping. The properties of both systems can be reproducedmore »by binary evolution models in which a $1{-}2\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ primary is stripped by a companion as it ascends the giant branch. The fact that the companions are also evolved implies either that the initial mass ratio was very near unity, or that the companions are temporarily inflated due to rapid accretion. The Unicorn and Giraffe offer a window into into a rarely observed phase of binary evolution preceding the formation of wide-orbit helium white dwarfs, and eventually, compact binaries containing two helium white dwarfs.

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    We investigate stellar elemental abundance patterns at $z$ = 0 in eight low-mass ($M_{*}=10^{6}{-}10^{9}\ \text{M}_{\odot }$) galaxies in the Feedback in Realistic Environments cosmological simulations. Using magnesium (Mg) as a representative α-element, we explore stellar abundance patterns in magnesium-to-iron ([Mg/Fe]) versus iron-to-hydrogen ([Fe/H]), which follow an overall monotonic trend that evolved slowly over time. Additionally, we explore three notable secondary features in enrichment (in three different case-study galaxies) that arise from a galaxy merger or bursty star formation. First, we observe a secondary track with a lower [Mg/Fe] than the main trend. At $z$ = 0, stars from this track are predominantly found within 2–6 kpc of the centre; they were accreted in a 1:3 total-mass-ratio merger ∼0.4 Gyr ago. Second, we find a distinct elemental bimodality that forms following a strong burst in star formation in a galaxy at $t_{\text{lookback}}\, \sim 10$ Gyr. This burst quenched star formation for ∼0.66 Gyr, allowing Type Ia supernovae to enrich the system with iron (Fe) before star formation resumed. Third, we examine stripes in enrichment that run roughly orthogonal to the dominant [Mg/Fe] versus [Fe/H] trend; these stripes correspond to short bursts of star formation during which core-collapse supernovae enrich the surrounding medium with Mg (andmore »Fe) on short time-scales. If observed, these features would substantiate the utility of elemental abundances in revealing the assembly and star-formation histories of dwarf galaxies. We explore the observability of these features for upcoming spectroscopic studies. Our results show that precise measurements of elemental abundance patterns can reveal critical events in the formation histories of low-mass galaxies.

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  7. Abstract Extended, old, and round stellar halos appear to be ubiquitous around high-mass dwarf galaxies (10 8.5 < M ⋆ / M ⊙ < 10 9.6 ) in the observed universe. However, it is unlikely that these dwarfs have undergone a sufficient number of minor mergers to form stellar halos that are composed of predominantly accreted stars. Here, we demonstrate that FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological zoom-in simulations are capable of producing dwarf galaxies with realistic structures, including both a thick disk and round stellar halo. Crucially, these stellar halos are formed in situ, largely via the outward migration of disk stars. However, there also exists a large population of “nondisky” dwarfs in FIRE-2 that lack a well-defined disk/halo and do not resemble the observed dwarf population. These nondisky dwarfs tend to be either more gas-poor or to have burstier recent star formation histories than the disky dwarfs, suggesting that star formation feedback may be preventing disk formation. Both classes of dwarfs underscore the power of a galaxy’s intrinsic shape—which is a direct quantification of the distribution of the galaxy’s stellar content—to interrogate the feedback implementation in simulated galaxies.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  8. ABSTRACT We construct from Gaia eDR3 an extensive catalogue of spatially resolved binary stars within ≈1 kpc of the Sun, with projected separations ranging from a few au to 1 pc. We estimate the probability that each pair is a chance alignment empirically, using the Gaia catalogue itself to calculate the rate of chance alignments as a function of observables. The catalogue contains 1.3 (1.1) million binaries with >90 per cent (>99 per cent) probability of being bound, including 16 000 white dwarf – main-sequence (WD + MS) binaries and 1400 WD + WD binaries. We make the full catalogue publicly available, as well as the queries and code to produce it. We then use this sample to calibrate the published Gaia DR3 parallax uncertainties, making use of the binary components’ near-identical parallaxes. We show that these uncertainties are generally reliable for faint stars (G ≳ 18), but are underestimated significantly for brighter stars. The underestimates are generally $\leq30{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ for isolated sources with well-behaved astrometry, but are larger (up to ∼80 per cent) for apparently well-behaved sources with a companion within ≲4 arcsec, and much larger for sources with poor astrometric fits. We provide an empirical fitting function to inflate published σϖ values for isolated sources. The publicmore »catalogue offers wide ranging follow-up opportunities: from calibrating spectroscopic surveys, to precisely constraining ages of field stars, to the masses and the initial–final mass relation of WDs, to dynamically probing the Galactic tidal field.« less
  9. Abstract

    White dwarfs (WDs) offer unrealized potential in solving two problems in astrophysics: stellar age accuracy and precision. WD cooling ages can be inferred from surface temperatures and radii, which can be constrained with precision by high-quality photometry and parallaxes. Accurate and precise Gaia parallaxes along with photometric surveys provide information to derive cooling and total ages for vast numbers of WDs. Here we analyze 1372 WDs found in wide binaries with main-sequence (MS) companions and report on the cooling and total age precision attainable in these WD+MS systems. The total age of a WD can be further constrained if its original metallicity is known because the MS lifetime depends on metallicity at fixed mass, yet metallicity is unavailable via spectroscopy of the WD. We show that incorporating spectroscopic metallicity constraints from 38 wide binary MS companions substantially decreases internal uncertainties in WD total ages compared to a uniform constraint. Averaged over the 38 stars in our sample, the total (internal) age uncertainty improves from 21.04% to 16.77% when incorporating the spectroscopic constraint. Higher mass WDs yield better total age precision; for eight WDs with zero-age MS masses ≥2.0M, the mean uncertainty in total ages improves from 8.61% to 4.54%more »when incorporating spectroscopic metallicities. We find that it is often possible to achieve 5% total age precision for WDs with progenitor masses above 2.0Mif parallaxes with ≤1% precision and Pan-STARRSg,r, andiphotometry with ≤0.01 mag precision are available.

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  10. Comoving pairs, even at the separations of O(106) AU, are a predicted reservoir of conatal stars. We present detailed chemical abundances of 62 stars in 31 comoving pairs with separations of 102 − 107 AU and 3D velocity differences < 2 km s−1. This sample includes both bound comoving pairs/wide binaries and unbound comoving pairs. Observations were taken using the MIKE spectrograph on the Magellan/Clay Telescope at high resolution (R ∼ 45, 000) with a typical signal-to-noise ratio of 150 per pixel. With these spectra, we measure surface abundances for 24 elements, including Li, C, Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Nd, Eu. Taking iron as the representative element, our sample of wide binaries is chemically homogeneous at the level of 0.05 dex, which agrees with prior studies on wide binaries. Importantly, even systems at separations 2 × 105 − 107 AU are homogeneous to 0.09 dex, as opposed to the random pairs which have a dispersion of 0.23 dex. Assuming a mixture model of the wide binaries and random pairs, we find that 73 ± 22% of the comoving pairs at separations 2 × 105more »− 107 AU are conatal. Our results imply that a much larger parameter space of phase space may be used to find conatal stars, to study M-dwarfs, star cluster evolution, exoplanets, chemical tagging, and beyond.« less