Discovery Of Pulsations, Including Possible Pressure Modes, In Two New Extremely Low Mass, He-Core White Dwarfs
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We report the discovery of the second and third pulsating extremely low mass (ELM) white dwarfs (WDs), SDSS J111215.82+111745.0 (hereafter J1112) and SDSS J151826.68+065813.2 (hereafter J1518). Both have masses < 0.25 M-circle dot and effective temperatures below 10,000 K, establishing these putatively He-core WDs as a cooler class of pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere WDs (DAVs, or ZZ Ceti stars). The short-period pulsations evidenced in the light curve of J1112 may also represent the first observation of acoustic (p-mode) pulsations in any WD, which provide an exciting opportunity to probe this WD in a complimentary way compared to the long-period g-modes that are also present. J1112 is a T-eff = 9590 +/- 140 K and log g = 6.36 +/- 0.06 WD. The star displays sinusoidal variability at five distinct periodicities between 1792 and 2855 s. In this star, we also see short-period variability, strongest at 134.3 s, well short of the expected g-modes for such a low-mass WD. The other new pulsating WD, J1518, is a Teff = 9900 +/- 140 K and log g = 6.80 +/- 0.05 WD. The light curve of J1518 is highly non-sinusoidal, with at least seven significant periods between 1335 and 3848 s. Consistent with the expectation that ELM WDs must be formed in binaries, these two new pulsating He-core WDs, in addition to the prototype SDSS J184037.78+642312.3, have close companions. However, the observed variability is inconsistent with tidally induced pulsations and is so far best explained by the same hydrogen partial-ionization driving mechanism at work in classic C/O-core ZZ Ceti stars.