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Thermally Bloated Low-Mass White Dwarfs

10 Feb 2015, 22:00 UTC
Thermally Bloated Low-Mass White Dwarfs
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White dwarfs typically pack as much mass as the Sun into a volume the size of Earth. Given that Earth’s diameter is only one percent the Sun’s, white dwarfs are very compact objects. However, white dwarfs are not always as dense and compact as they typically are. A study by Rappaport et al. (2015) reports on the discovery of two thermally bloated low-mass white dwarfs in the binary star systems KIC 9164561 and KIC 10727668. Both white dwarfs happen to transit their primary host stars and were first detected using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a white dwarf.KIC 9164561 consists of a white dwarf with 0.197 ± 0.005 times the Sun’s mass and 0.277 ± 0.005 times the Sun’s diameter in a 1.267 day orbit around a 2.02 ± 0.06 solar-mass A-type star. The other binary star system, KIC 10727668, consists of a white dwarf with 0.266 ± 0.035 times the Sun’s mass and 0.151 ± 0.004 times the Sun’s diameter in a 2.306 day orbit around a 2.22 ± 0.10 solar-mass A-type star. Both white dwarfs in KIC 9164561 and KIC 10727668 are hot, low-mass helium white dwarfs with estimated temperatures of 10,410 ± ...

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