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  1. Abstract Accurate stellar ages are essential for our understanding of the star formation history of the Milky Way and Galactic chemical evolution, as well as to constrain exoplanet formation models. Gyrochronology, a relationship between stellar rotation and age, appears to offer a reliable age indicator for main-sequence (MS) stars over the mass range of approximately 0.6–1.3 M ⊙ . Those stars lose their angular momentum due to magnetic braking and as a result their rotation speeds decrease with age. Although current gyrochronology relations have been fairly well tested for young MS stars with masses greater than 1 M ⊙ , primarily in young open clusters, insufficient tests exist for older and lower mass MS stars. Binary stars offer the potential to expand and fill in the range of ages and metallicity over which gyrochronology can be empirically tested. In this paper, we demonstrate a Monte Carlo approach to evaluate gyrochronology models using binary stars. As examples, we used five previously published wide binary pairs. We also demonstrate a Monte Carlo approach to assess the precision and accuracy of ages derived from each gyrochronology model. For the traditional Skumanich models, the age uncertainties are σ age /age = 15%–20% for starsmore »with B − V = 0.65 and σ age /age = 5%–10% for stars with B − V = 1.5 and rotation period P ≤ 20 days.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. 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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    ABSTRACT WD 0145+234 is a white dwarf that is accreting metals from a circumstellar disc of planetary material. It has exhibited a substantial and sustained increase in 3–5 $\mu$m flux since 2018. Follow-up Spitzer photometry reveals that emission from the disc had begun to decrease by late 2019. Stochastic brightening events superimposed on the decline in brightness suggest the liberation of dust during collisional evolution of the circumstellar solids. A simple model is used to show that the observations are indeed consistent with ongoing collisions. Rare emission lines from circumstellar gas have been detected at this system, supporting the emerging picture of white dwarf debris discs as sites of collisional gas and dust production.
  4. ABSTRACT We have made high-precision polarimetric observations of the polluted white dwarf G29-38 with the HIgh Precision Polarimetric Instrument 2. The observations were made at two different observatories – using the 8.1-m Gemini North Telescope and the 3.9-m Anglo-Australian Telescope – and are consistent with each other. After allowing for a small amount of interstellar polarization, the intrinsic linear polarization of the system is found to be 275.3 ± 31.9 parts per million at a position angle of 90.8 ± 3.8° in the SDSS g′ band. We compare the observed polarization with the predictions of circumstellar disc models. The measured polarization is small in the context of the models we develop, which only allows us to place limits on disc inclination and Bond albedo for optically thin disc geometries. In this case, either the inclination is near-face-on or the albedo is small – likely in the range 0.05–0.15 – which is in line with other debris disc measurements. A preliminary search for the effects of G29-38’s pulsations in the polarization signal produced inconsistent results. This may be caused by beating effects, indicate a clumpy dust distribution, or be a consequence of measurement systematics.
  5. ABSTRACT The inwards scattering of planetesimals towards white dwarfs is expected to be a stochastic process with variability on human time-scales. The planetesimals tidally disrupt at the Roche radius, producing dusty debris detectable as excess infrared emission. When sufficiently close to the white dwarf, this debris sublimates and accretes on to the white dwarf and pollutes its atmosphere. Studying this infrared emission around polluted white dwarfs can reveal how this planetary material arrives in their atmospheres. We report a near-infrared monitoring campaign of 34 white dwarfs with infrared excesses with the aim to search for variability in the dust emission. Time series photometry of these white dwarfs from the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (Wide Field Camera) in the J-, H-, and K-bands was obtained over baselines of up to 3 yr. We find no statistically significant variation in the dust emission in all three near-infrared bands. Specifically, we can rule out variability at ∼1.3 per cent for the 13 white dwarfs brighter than 16th mag in K-band, and at ∼10 per cent for the 32 white dwarfs brighter than 18th mag over time-scales of 3 yr. Although to date two white dwarfs, SDSS J095904.69−020047.6 and WD 1226+110, have shown K-band variability, in our samplemore »we see no evidence of new K-band variability at these levels. One interpretation is that the tidal disruption events that lead to large variabilities are rare occur on short time-scales, and after a few years the white dwarfs return to being stable in the near-infrared.« less