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Title: THE MASS DISTRIBUTION OF COMPANIONS TO LOW-MASS WHITE DWARFS

Measuring the masses of companions to single-line spectroscopic binary stars is (in general) not possible because of the unknown orbital plane inclination. Even when the mass of the visible star can be measured, only a lower limit can be placed on the mass of the unseen companion. However, since these inclination angles should be isotropically distributed, for a large enough, unbiased sample, the companion mass distribution can be deconvolved from the distribution of observables. In this work, we construct a hierarchical probabilistic model to infer properties of unseen companion stars given observations of the orbital period and projected radial velocity of the primary star. We apply this model to three mock samples of low-mass white dwarfs (LMWDs; M ≲ 0.45 M {sub ☉}) and a sample of post-common-envelope binaries. We use a mixture of two Gaussians to model the WD and neutron star (NS) companion mass distributions. Our model successfully recovers the initial parameters of these test data sets. We then apply our model to 55 WDs in the extremely low-mass (ELM) WD Survey. Our maximum a posteriori model for the WD companion population has a mean mass μ{sub WD} = 0.74 M {sub ☉}, with a standard deviation σ{submore » WD} = 0.24 M {sub ☉}. Our model constrains the NS companion fraction f {sub NS} to be <16% at 68% confidence. We make samples from the posterior distribution publicly available so that future observational efforts may compute the NS probability for newly discovered LMWDs.« less
Authors:
; ;  [1]
  1. Department of Astronomy, Columbia University, 550 W 120th Street, New York, NY 10027 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364792
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 797; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BINARY STARS; INCLINATION; MASS; MASS DISTRIBUTION; NEUTRON STARS; PROBABILISTIC ESTIMATION; PROBABILITY; RADIAL VELOCITY; WHITE DWARF STARS