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  1. Abstract

    We present the discovery of 17 double white dwarf (WD) binaries from our ongoing search for extremely low mass (ELM) < 0.3MWDs, objects that form from binary evolution. Gaia parallax provides a new means of target selection that we use to evaluate our original ELM Survey selection criteria. Cross-matching the Gaia and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) catalogs, we identify an additional 36 ELM WD candidates with 17 <g< 19 mag and within the 3σuncertainties of our original color selection. The resulting discoveries imply the ELM Survey sample was 90% complete in the color range −0.4 < (gr)0< −0.1 mag (approximately 9000 K <Teff< 22,000 K). Our observations complete the sample in the SDSS footprint. Two newly discovered binaries, J123950.370−204142.28 and J232208.733+210352.81, have orbital periods of 22.5 and 32 minutes, respectively, and are future Laser Interferometer Space Antenna gravitational-wave sources.

  2. A recent analysis of the 100 pc white dwarf sample in the SDSS footprint demonstrated for the first time the existence of a well defined ultracool -- or IR-faint -- white dwarf sequence in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Here we take advantage of this discovery to enlarge the IR-faint white dwarf sample threefold. We expand our selection to the entire Pan-STARRS survey footprint as well as the Montreal White Dwarf Database 100 pc sample, and identify 37 candidates with strong flux deficits in the optical. We present follow-up Gemini optical spectroscopy of 30 of these systems, and confirm all of them as IR-faint white dwarfs. We identify an additional set of 33 objects as candidates based on their colors and magnitudes. We present a detailed model atmosphere analysis of all 70 newly identified IR-faint white dwarfs together with 35 previously known objects reported in the literature. We discuss the physics of model atmospheres and show that the key physical ingredient missing in our previous generation of model atmospheres was the high-density correction to the He-minus free-free absorption coefficient. With new model atmospheres calculated for the purpose of this analysis, we now obtain significantly higher effective temperatures and larger stellar masses formore »these IR-faint white dwarfs than the Teff and M values reported in previous analyses, thus solving a two decade old problem. In particular, we identify in our sample a group of ultramassive white dwarfs in the Debye cooling phase with stellar parameters never measured before.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 7, 2023
  3. Abstract We report the discovery of an isolated white dwarf with a spin period of 70 s. We obtained high-speed photometry of three ultramassive white dwarfs within 100 pc and discovered significant variability in one. SDSS J221141.80+113604.4 is a 1.27 M ⊙ (assuming a CO core) magnetic white dwarf that shows 2.9% brightness variations in the BG40 filter with a 70.32 ± 0.04 s period, becoming the fastest spinning isolated white dwarf currently known. A detailed model atmosphere analysis shows that it has a mixed hydrogen and helium atmosphere with a dipole field strength of B d = 15 MG. Given its large mass, fast rotation, strong magnetic field, unusual atmospheric composition, and relatively large tangential velocity for its cooling age, J2211+1136 displays all of the signatures of a double white dwarf merger remnant. Long-term monitoring of the spin evolution of J2211+1136 and other fast-spinning isolated white dwarfs opens a new discovery space for substellar and planetary mass companions around white dwarfs. In addition, the discovery of such fast rotators outside of the ZZ Ceti instability strip suggests that some should also exist within the strip. Hence, some of the monoperiodic variables found within the instability strip may be fast-spinningmore »white dwarfs impersonating ZZ Ceti pulsators.« less
  4. ABSTRACT We present an analysis of the most massive white dwarf candidates in the Montreal White Dwarf Database 100 pc sample. We identify 25 objects that would be more massive than $1.3\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ if they had pure H atmospheres and CO cores, including two outliers with unusually high photometric mass estimates near the Chandrasekhar limit. We provide follow-up spectroscopy of these two white dwarfs and show that they are indeed significantly below this limit. We expand our model calculations for CO core white dwarfs up to M = 1.334 M⊙, which corresponds to the high-density limit of our equation-of-state tables, ρ = 109 g cm−3. We find many objects close to this maximum mass of our CO core models. A significant fraction of ultramassive white dwarfs are predicted to form through binary mergers. Merger populations can reveal themselves through their kinematics, magnetism, or rapid rotation rates. We identify four outliers in transverse velocity, four likely magnetic white dwarfs (one of which is also an outlier in transverse velocity), and one with rapid rotation, indicating that at least 8 of the 25 ultramassive white dwarfs in our sample are likely merger products.
  5. ABSTRACT We present high-resolution spectroscopy of two nearby white dwarfs with inconsistent spectroscopic and parallax distances. The first one, PG 1632+177, is a 13th magnitude white dwarf only 25.6 pc away. Previous spectroscopic observations failed to detect any radial velocity changes in this star. Here, we show that PG 1632+177 is a 2.05-d period double-lined spectroscopic binary (SB2) containing a low-mass He-core white dwarf with a more-massive, likely CO-core white dwarf companion. After L 870−2, PG 1632+177 becomes the second closest SB2 white dwarf currently known. Our second target, WD 1534+503, is also an SB2 system with an orbital period of 0.71 d. For each system, we constrain the atmospheric parameters of both components through a composite model-atmosphere analysis. We also present a new set of non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) synthetic spectra appropriate for modelling high-resolution observations of cool white dwarfs, and show that NLTE effects in the core of the H α line increase with decreasing effective temperature. We discuss the orbital period and mass distribution of SB2 and eclipsing double white dwarfs with orbital constraints, and demonstrate that the observed population is consistent with the predicted period distribution from the binary population synthesis models. The latter predict more massive COmore »+ CO white dwarf binaries at short (<1 d) periods, as well as binaries with several day orbital periods; such systems are still waiting to be discovered in large numbers.« less
  6. ABSTRACT We present the Apache Point Observatory BG40 broad-band and simultaneous Gemini r-band and i-band high-speed follow-up photometry observations and analysis of the 40.5-min period eclipsing detached double-degenerate binary SDSS J082239.54+304857.19. Our APO data spans over 318 d and includes 13 primary eclipses, from which we precisely measure the system’s orbital period and improve the time of mid-eclipse measurement. We fit the light curves for each filter individually and show that this system contains a low-mass DA white dwarf with radius RA = 0.031 ± 0.006 R⊙ and a RB = 0.013 ± 0.005 R⊙ companion at an inclination of i = 87.7 ± 0.2○. We use the best-fitting eclipsing light curve model to estimate the temperature of the secondary star as Teff = 5200 ± 100 K. Finally, while we do not record significant offsets to the expected time of mid-eclipse caused by the emission of gravitational waves with our 1-yr baseline, we show that a 3σ significant measurement of the orbital decay due to gravitational waves will be possible in 2023, at which point the eclipse will occur about 8  s earlier than expected.
  7. ABSTRACT We present radial velocity observations of four binary white dwarf candidates identified through their overluminosity. We identify two new double-lined spectroscopic binary systems, WD 0311–649 and WD 1606+422, and constrain their orbital parameters. WD 0311–649 is a 17.7 h period system with a mass ratio of 1.44 ± 0.06 and WD 1606+422 is a 20.1 h period system with a mass ratio of 1.33 ± 0.03. An additional object, WD 1447–190, is a 43 h period single-lined white dwarf binary, whereas WD 1418–088 does not show any significant velocity variations over time-scales ranging from minutes to decades. We present an overview of the 14 overluminous white dwarfs that were identified by Bédard et al., and find the fraction of double- and single-lined systems to be both 31 per cent. However, an additional 31 per cent of these overluminous white dwarfs do not show any significant radial velocity variations. We demonstrate that these must be in long-period binaries that may be resolved by Gaia astrometry. We also discuss the overabundance of single low-mass white dwarfs identified in the SPY survey, and suggest that some of those systems are also likely long-period binary systems of more massive white dwarfs.