The Spectral Evolution of Convective Mixing White Dwarfs, the Non-DA Gap, and White Dwarf Cosmochronology
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The spectral distribution of field white dwarfs shows a feature called the "non-DA gap." As defined by Bergeron et al., this is a temperature range (5100-6100 K) where relatively few non-DA stars are found, even though such stars are abundant on either side of the gap. It is usually viewed as an indication that a significant fraction of white dwarfs switch their atmospheric compositions back and forth between hydrogen-rich and helium-rich as they cool. In this Letter, we present a Monte Carlo model of the Galactic disk white dwarf population, based on the spectral evolution model of Chen and Hansen. We find that the non-DA gap emerges naturally, even though our model only allows white dwarf atmospheres to evolve monotonically from hydrogen-rich to helium-rich through convective mixing. We conclude by discussing the effects of convective mixing on the white dwarf luminosity function and the use thereof for Cosmochronology.