Constraining Low-Mass White Dwarf Binaries from Ellipsoidal Variations
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Stars are stretched by tidal interactions in tight binaries, and changes to their projected areas introduce photometric variations twice per orbit. Hermes et al. (2014) utilized measurements of these ellipsoidal variations to constrain the radii of lowmass white dwarfs in eight single-lined spectroscopic binaries. We refine this method here, using Monte Carlo simulations to improve constraints on many orbital and stellar properties of binary systems that exhibit ellipsoidal variations. We analyze the recently discovered tidally distorted white dwarf binary system SDSS J1054-2121 in detail, and also revisit the Hermes et al. (2014) sample. Disagreements in some cases between the observations, ellipsoidal variation model, and Gaia radius constraints suggest that extrinsic errors are present, likely in the surface gravities determined through model atmosphere fits to stellar spectra.
The 21st European Workshop on White Dwarfs was held in Austin, TX from July 23rd to 27th of 2018