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Astrophysics > Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

Title: White Dwarf - Red Dwarf Systems Resolved with the Hubble Space Telescope. II. Full Snapshot Survey Results

Abstract: Results are presented for a Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys high-resolution imaging campaign of 90 white dwarfs with known or suspected low mass stellar and substellar companions. Of the 72 targets which remain candidate and confirmed white dwarfs with near-infrared excess, 43 are spatially resolved into two or more components, and a total of 12 systems are potentially triples. There is a possible, slight deficit of earlier spectral types (bluer colors) among the spatially unresolved companions, exactly the opposite of expectations if significant mass is transferred to the companion during the common envelope phase. Using the best available distance estimates, the low mass companions to white dwarfs exhibit a bimodal distribution in projected separation. This result supports the hypothesis that during the giant phases of the white dwarf progenitor, any unevolved companions either migrate inward to short periods of hours to days, or outward to periods of hundreds to thousands of years. No intermediate projected separations of a few to several AU are found among these pairs. However, a few double M dwarfs (within triples) are spatially resolved in this range, empirically demonstrating that such separations were readily detectable among the binaries with white dwarfs. A straightforward and testable prediction emerges: all spatially unresolved, low mass stellar and substellar companions to white dwarfs should be in short period orbits. This result has implications for substellar companion and planetary orbital evolution during the post-main sequence lifetime of their stellar hosts.
Comments: Accepted to ApJ Supplement Series, emulateapj format, 14 figures, 8 tables
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/190/2/275
Cite as: arXiv:1008.2545 [astro-ph.SR]
  (or arXiv:1008.2545v2 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jay Farihi [view email]
[v1] Sun, 15 Aug 2010 19:57:44 GMT (457kb)
[v2] Mon, 30 Aug 2010 16:29:19 GMT (455kb)