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  1. Abstract ZTF J213056.71+442046.5 is the prototype of a small class of recently discovered compact binaries composed of a white dwarf and a hot subdwarf that fills its Roche lobe. Its orbital period of only 39 minutes is the shortest known for the objects in this class. Evidence for a high orbital inclination ( i = 86°) and for the presence of an accretion disk has been inferred from a detailed modeling of its optical photometric and spectroscopic data. We report the results of an XMM-Newton observation carried out on 2021 January 7. ZTF J213056.71+442046.5 was clearly detected by the Optical Monitor, which showed a periodic variability in the UV band (200–400 nm), with a light curve similar to that seen at longer wavelengths. Despite accretion on the white dwarf at an estimated rate of the order of 10 −9 M ⊙ yr −1 , no X-rays were detected with the EPIC instrument, with a limit of ∼10 30 erg s −1 on the 0.2–12 keV luminosity. We discuss possible explanations for the lack of a strong X-ray emission from this system.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT The Fermi Large Area Telescope gamma-ray source 3FGL J2039.6–5618 contains a periodic optical and X-ray source that was predicted to be a ‘redback’ millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary system. However, the conclusive identification required the detection of pulsations from the putative MSP. To better constrain the orbital parameters for a directed search for gamma-ray pulsations, we obtained new optical light curves in 2017 and 2018, which revealed long-term variability from the companion star. The resulting orbital parameter constraints were used to perform a targeted gamma-ray pulsation search using the Einstein@Home-distributed volunteer computing system. This search discovered pulsations with a period of 2.65 ms, confirming the source as a binary MSP now known as PSR J2039–5617. Optical light-curve modelling is complicated, and likely biased, by asymmetric heating on the companion star and long-term variability, but we find an inclination i ≳ 60°, for a low pulsar mass between $1.1\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot } \lt M_{\rm psr} \lt $ 1.6 M⊙, and a companion mass of 0.15–$0.22\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, confirming the redback classification. Timing the gamma-ray pulsations also revealed significant variability in the orbital period, which we find to be consistent with quadrupole moment variations in the companion star, suggestive of convective activity. We also find thatmore »the pulsed flux is modulated at the orbital period, potentially due to inverse Compton scattering between high-energy leptons in the pulsar wind and the companion star’s optical photon field.« less
  3. ABSTRACT We present the discovery of only the third brown dwarf known to eclipse a non-accreting white dwarf. Gaia parallax information and multicolour photometry confirm that the white dwarf is cool (9950 ± 150 K) and has a low mass (0.45 ± 0.05 M⊙), and spectra and light curves suggest the brown dwarf has a mass of 0.067 ± 0.006 M⊙ (70MJup) and a spectral type of L5 ± 1. The kinematics of the system show that the binary is likely to be a member of the thick disc and therefore at least 5-Gyr old. The high-cadence light curves show that the brown dwarf is inflated, making it the first brown dwarf in an eclipsing white dwarf-brown dwarf binary to be so.

    Despite being bright (V ≃ 11.8) and nearby (d = 212 pc) ASAS J071404+7004.3 has only recently been identified as a nova-like cataclysmic variable. We present time-resolved optical spectroscopy obtained at the Isaac Newton and the Hiltner and McGraw-Hill Telescopes, together with Swift X-ray and ultraviolet observations. We combined these with TESS photometry and find a period of 3.28 h and a mass transfer rate of $4\!-\!9\times 10^{-9}\, {\mathrm{M_{\odot }\, yr}^{-1}}$. Historical photometry shows at least one low state establishing the system as a VY Scl star. Our high-cadence spectroscopy also revealed rapidly changing winds emanating from the accretion disc. We have modelled these using the Monte Carlo python code and shown that all the emission lines could emanate from the wind – which would explain the lack of double-peaked lines in such systems. In passing, we discuss the effect of variability on the position of cataclysmic variables in the Gaia Hertzsprung–Russell diagram.


    Accurate measurements of the masses of neutron stars are necessary to test binary evolution models, and to constrain the neutron star equation of state. In pulsar binaries with no measurable post-Keplerian parameters, this requires an accurate estimate of the binary system’s inclination and the radial velocity of the companion star by other means than pulsar timing. In this paper, we present the results of a new method for measuring this radial velocity using the binary synthesis code Icarus. This method relies on constructing a model spectrum of a tidally distorted, irradiated star as viewed for a given binary configuration. This method is applied to optical spectra of the newly discovered black widow PSR J1555–2908. By modeling the optical spectroscopy alongside optical photometry, we find that the radial velocity of the companion star is 397 ± 4 km s−1 (errors quoted at 95 per cent confidence interval), as well as a binary inclination of >75°. Combined with γ-ray pulsation timing information, this gives a neutron star mass of 1.67$^{+0.15}_{-0.09}$ M⊙ and a companion mass of 0.060$^{+0.005}_{-0.003}$ M⊙, placing PSR J1555–2908 at the observed upper limit of what is considered a black widow system.


    We present a detailed study of the stellar and orbital parameters of the post-common envelope binary central star of the planetary nebula Ou 5. Low-resolution spectra obtained during the primary eclipse – to our knowledge the first isolated spectra of the companion to a post-common-envelope planetary nebula central star – were compared to catalogue spectra, indicating that the companion star is a late K- or early M-type dwarf. Simultaneous modelling of multiband photometry and time-resolved radial velocity measurements was then used to independently determine the parameters of both stars as well as the orbital period and inclination. The modelling indicates that the companion star is low mass (∼0.25 M⊙) and has a radius significantly larger than would be expected for its mass. Furthermore, the effective temperature and surface gravity of nebular progenitor, as derived by the modelling, do not lie on single-star post-AGB evolutionary tracks, instead being more consistent with a post-RGB evolution. However, an accurate determination of the component masses is challenging. This is principally due to the uncertainty on the locus of the spectral lines generated by the irradiation of the companion’s atmosphere by the hot primary (used to derive companion star’s radial velocities), as well as the lackmore »of radial velocities of the primary.

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