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Thompson S.E.,University of Delaware | Thompson S.E.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Montgomery M.H.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Montgomery M.H.,University of Texas at Austin | And 32 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2010

We constrain the distribution of calcium across the surface of the white dwarf star G29-38 by combining time-series spectroscopy from Gemini-North with global time-series photometry from the Whole Earth Telescope. G29-38 is actively accreting metals from a known debris disk. Since the metals sink significantly faster than they mix across the surface, any inhomogeneity in the accretion process will appear as an inhomogeneity of the metals on the surface of the star. We measure the flux amplitudes and the calcium equivalent width amplitudes for two large pulsations excited on G29-38 in 2008. The ratio of these amplitudes best fits a model for polar accretion of calcium and rules out equatorial accretion. © 2010 The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Provencal J.L.,University of Delaware | Provencal J.L.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Montgomery M.H.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Montgomery M.H.,University of Texas at Austin | And 64 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2012

We report on an analysis of 308.3hr of high-speed photometry targeting the pulsating DA white dwarf EC14012-1446. The data were acquired with the Whole Earth Telescope during the 2008 international observing run XCOV26. The Fourier transform of the light curve contains 19 independent frequencies and numerous combination frequencies. The dominant peaks are 1633.907, 1887.404, and 2504.897 μHz. Our analysis of the combination amplitudes reveals that the parent frequencies are consistent with modes of spherical degree l = 1. The combination amplitudes also provide m identifications for the largest amplitude parent frequencies. Our seismology analysis, which includes 2004-2007 archival data, confirms these identifications, provides constraints on additional frequencies, and finds an average period spacing of 41s. Building on this foundation, we present nonlinear fits to high signal-to-noise light curves from the SOAR 4.1m, McDonald 2.1m, and KPNO 2m telescopes. The fits indicate a time-averaged convective response timescale of τ0 = 99.4 ± 17s, a temperature exponent N = 85 ± 6.2, and an inclination angle of θi = 32°.9 ± 3°.2. We present our current empirical map of the convective response timescale across the DA instability strip. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Reed M.D.,Missouri State University | Baran A.,Iowa State University | Baran A.,Pedagogical University of Cracow | Quint A.C.,Missouri State University | And 15 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

We investigate the possibility of nearly equally spaced periods in 13 hot subdwarf B (sdB) stars observed with the Kepler spacecraft and one observed with CoRoT. Asymptotic limits for gravity (g-)mode pulsations provide relationships between equal-period spacings of modes with differing degrees ℓ and relationships between periods of the same radial order n but differing degrees ℓ. Period transforms, Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests and linear least-squares fits have been used to detect and determine the significance of equal-period spacings. We have also used Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the likelihood that the detected spacings could be produced randomly. Period transforms for nine of the Kepler stars indicate ℓ= 1 period spacings, with five also showing peaks for ℓ= 2 modes. 12 stars indicate ℓ= 1 modes using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test while another shows solely ℓ= 2 modes. Monte Carlo results indicate that equal-period spacings are significant in 10 stars above 99 per cent confidence, and 13 of the 14 are above 94 per cent confidence. For 12 stars, the various methods find consistent period spacings to within the errors, two others show some inconsistencies, likely caused by binarity, and the last has significant detections but the mode assignment disagrees between the methods. We use asymptotic period spacing relationships to associate observed periods of variability with pulsation modes for ℓ= 1 and 2. From the Kepler first-year survey sample of 13 multiperiodic g-mode pulsators, five stars have several consecutive overtones making period spacings easy to detect, six others have fewer consecutive overtones but period spacings are readily detected, and two stars show marginal indications of equal-period spacings. We also examine a g-mode sdB pulsator observed by CoRoT with a rich pulsation spectrum, and our tests detect regular period spacings. We use Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the significance of the detections in individual stars. From the simulations, it is determined that regular period spacings in 10 of the 14 stars are very unlikely to be random, another two are moderately unlikely to be random and two are mostly unconstrained. We find a common ℓ= 1 period spacing spanning a range from 231 to 272s allowing us to correlate pulsation modes with 222 periodicities and that the ℓ= 2 period spacings are related to the ℓ= 1 spacings by the asymptotic relationship We briefly discuss the impact of equal-period spacings which indicate low-degree modes with a lack of significant mode trappings. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.


Redaelli M.,Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul | Kepler S.O.,Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul | Costa J.E.S.,Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul | Winget D.E.,University of Texas at Austin | And 79 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

PG 1351+489 is one of the 20 DBVs - pulsating helium-atmosphere white dwarf stars - known and has the simplest power spectrum for this class of star, making it a good candidate to study cooling rates. We report accurate period determinations for the main peak at 489.33448s and two other normal modes using data from the Whole Earth Telescope (WET) observations of 1995 and 2009. In 2009, we detected a new pulsation mode and the main pulsation mode exhibited substantial change in its amplitude compared to all previous observations. We were able to estimate the star's rotation period, of 8.9h, and discuss a possible determination of the rate of period change of (2.0 ± 0.9) × 10-13ss -1, the first such estimate for a DBV. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.


Pihajoki P.,University of Turku | Valtonen M.,University of Turku | Zola S.,Jagiellonian University | Zola S.,Pedagogical University of Cracow | And 21 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We have studied three most recent precursor flares in the light curve of the blazar OJ 287 while invoking the presence of a precessing binary black hole in the system to explain the nature of these flares. Precursor flare timings from the historical light curves are compared with theoretical predictions from our model that incorporate effects of an accretion disk and post-Newtonian description for the binary black hole orbit. We find that the precursor flares coincide with the secondary black hole descending toward the accretion disk of the primary black hole from the observed side, with a mean z-component of approximately zc = 4000 AU. We use this model of precursor flares to predict that precursor flare of similar nature should happen around 2020.96 before the next major outburst in 2022. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..


Mukadam A.S.,University of Washington | Mukadam A.S.,Apache Point Observatory | Townsley D.M.,University of Alabama | Szkody P.,University of Washington | And 28 more authors.
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2013

Photometric observations of the cataclysmic variable EQ Lyn (SDSS J074531.92+453829.6), acquired from 2005 October to 2006 January, revealed high-amplitude variability in the range 1166-1290 s. This accreting white dwarf underwent an outburst in 2006 October, during which its brightness increased by at least five magnitudes, and it started exhibiting superhumps in its light curve. Upon cooling to quiescence, the superhumps disappeared and it displayed the same periods in 2010 February as prior to the outburst within the uncertainties of a couple of seconds. This behavior suggests that the observed variability is likely due to nonradial pulsations in the white dwarf star, whose core structure has not been significantly affected by the outburst. The enigmatic observations begin with an absence of pulsational variability during a multi-site campaign conducted in 2011 January-February without any evidence of a new outburst; the light curve is instead dominated by superhumps with periods in the range of 83-87 minutes. Ultraviolet Hubble Space Telescope time-series spectroscopy acquired in 2011 March reveals an effective temperature of 15,400 K, placing EQ Lyn within the broad instability strip of 10,500-16,000 K for accreting pulsators. The ultraviolet light curve with 90% flux from the white dwarf shows no evidence of any pulsations. Optical photometry acquired during 2011 and Spring 2012 continues to reflect the presence of superhumps and an absence of pulsations. Subsequent observations acquired in 2012 December and 2013 January finally indicate the disappearance of superhumps and the return of pulsational variability with similar periods as previous data. However, our most recent data from 2013 March to May reveal superhumps yet again with no sign of pulsations. We speculate that this enigmatic post-outburst behavior of the frequent disappearance of pulsational variability in EQ Lyn is caused either by heating the white dwarf beyond the instability strip due to an elevated accretion rate, disrupting pulsations associated with the He II instability strip by lowering the He abundance of the convection zone, free geometric precession of the entire system, or appearing and disappearing disk pulsations. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Mukadam A.S.,University of Washington | Mukadam A.S.,Apache Point Observatory | Bischoff-Kim A.,Georgia State University | Fraser O.,University of Washington | And 33 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We have finally measured the evolutionary rate of cooling of the pulsating hydrogen atmosphere (DA) white dwarf ZZ Ceti (Ross 548), as reflected by the drift rate of the 213.13260694 s period. Using 41 yr of time-series photometry from 1970 November to 2012 January, we determine the rate of change of this period with time to be dP/dt = (5.2 ± 1.4) × 10-15 s s-1 employing the O-C method and (5.45 ± 0.79) × 10 -15 s s-1 using a direct nonlinear least squares fit to the entire lightcurve. We adopt the dP/dt obtained from the nonlinear least squares program as our final determination, but augment the corresponding uncertainty to a more realistic value, ultimately arriving at the measurement of dP/dt = (5.5 ± 1.0) × 10-15 s s-1. After correcting for proper motion, the evolutionary rate of cooling of ZZ Ceti is computed to be (3.3 ± 1.1) × 10-15 s s-1. This value is consistent within uncertainties with the measurement of (4.19 ± 0.73) × 10-15 s s-1 for another similar pulsating DA white dwarf, G 117-B15A. Measuring the cooling rate of ZZ Ceti helps us refine our stellar structure and evolutionary models, as cooling depends mainly on the core composition and stellar mass. Calibrating white dwarf cooling curves with this measurement will reduce the theoretical uncertainties involved in white dwarf cosmochronometry. Should the 213.13 s period be trapped in the hydrogen envelope, then our determination of its drift rate compared to the expected evolutionary rate suggests an additional source of stellar cooling. Attributing the excess cooling to the emission of axions imposes a constraint on the mass of the hypothetical axion particle. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Montgomery M.H.,University of Texas at Austin | Montgomery M.H.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Provencal J.L.,Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center | Provencal J.L.,University of Delaware | And 9 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2010

Convective driving, the mechanism originally proposed by Brickhill for pulsating white dwarf stars, has gained general acceptance as the generic linear instability mechanism in DAV and DBV white dwarfs. This physical mechanism naturally leads to a nonlinear formulation, reproducing the observed light curves of many pulsating white dwarfs. This numerical model can also provide information on the average depth of a star's convection zone and the inclination angle of its pulsation axis. In this paper, we give two sets of results of nonlinear light curve fits to data on the DBV GD358. Our first fit is based on data gathered in 2006 by the Whole Earth Telescope; this data set was multiperiodic containing at least 12 individual modes. Our second fit utilizes data obtained in 1996, when GD358 underwent a dramatic change in excited frequencies accompanied by a rapid increase in fractional amplitude; during this event it was essentially monoperiodic. We argue that GD358's convection zone was much thinner in 1996 than in 2006, and we interpret this as a result of a short-lived increase in its surface temperature. In addition, we find strong evidence of oblique pulsation using two sets of evenly split triplets in the 2006 data. This marks the first time that oblique pulsation has been identified in a variable white dwarf star. © 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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