SDSS J184037.78+642312.3: the First Pulsating Extremely Low Mass White Dwarf

Hermes, J. J.
Montgomery, M. H.
Winget, D. E.
Brown, Warren R.
Kilic, Mukremin
Kenyon, Scott J.
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We report the discovery of the first pulsating extremely low mass (ELM) white dwarf (WD), SDSS J184037.78+642312.3 (hereafter J1840). This DA (hydrogen-atmosphere) WD is by far the coolest and the lowest-mass pulsating WD, with T-eff = 9100 +/- 170 K and log g = 6.22 +/- 0.06, which corresponds to a mass of similar to 0.17 M-circle dot. This low-mass pulsating WD greatly extends the DAV (or ZZ Ceti) instability strip, effectively bridging the log g gap between WDs and main-sequence stars. We detect high-amplitude variability in J1840 on timescales exceeding 4000 s, with a non-sinusoidal pulse shape. Our observations also suggest that the variability is multi-periodic. The star is in a 4.6 hr binary with another compact object, most likely another WD. Future, more extensive time-series photometry of this ELM WD offers the first opportunity to probe the interior of a low-mass, presumably He-core WD using the tools of asteroseismology.

Hermes, J. J., M. H. Montgomery, D. E. Winget, Warren R. Brown, Mukremin Kilic, and Scott J. Kenyon. "SDSS J184037. 78+ 642312.3: The First Pulsating Extremely Low Mass White Dwarf." The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 750, No. 2 (May, 2012): L28.