The Elm Survey. IV. 24 White Dwarf Merger Systems

Kilic, Mukremin; Brown, Warren R.; Prieto, Carlos Allende; Kenyon, S. J.; Heinke, Craig O.; Agüeros, Marcel Andre; Kleinman, S. J.

We present new radial velocity and X-ray observations of extremely low mass (ELM, ~0.2 M ☉) white dwarf (WD) candidates in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 7 area. We identify seven new binary systems with 1-18 hr orbital periods. Five of the systems will merge due to gravitational wave radiation within 10 Gyr, bringing the total number of merger systems found in the ELM Survey to 24. The ELM Survey has now quintupled the known merger WD population. It has also discovered the eight shortest period detached binary WD systems currently known. We discuss the characteristics of the merger and non-merger systems observed in the ELM Survey, including their future evolution. About half of the systems have extreme mass ratios. These are the progenitors of the AM Canum Venaticorum systems and Type Ia supernovae. The remaining targets will lead to the formation of extreme helium stars, subdwarfs, or massive WDs. We identify three targets that are excellent gravitational wave sources. These should be detected by the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna like missions within the first year of operation. The remaining targets are important indicators of what the Galactic foreground may look like for gravitational wave observatories.


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Astrophysical Journal

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IOP Science
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April 7, 2016