A white dwarf with transiting circumstellar material far outside the Roche limit
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Citation (published version)Z. Vanderbosch, J.J. Hermes, E. Dennihy, B.H. Dunlap, P. Izquierdo, P.-.E. Tremblay, P.B. Cho, B.T. Gänsicke, O. Toloza, K.J. Bell, M.H. Montgomery, D.E. Winget. "A White Dwarf with Transiting Circumstellar Material Far outside the Roche Limit." The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 897, Issue 2, pp. 171 - 171. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab9649
We report the discovery of a white dwarf exhibiting deep, irregularly shaped transits, indicative of circumstellar planetary debris. Using Zwicky Transient Facility DR2 photometry of ZTF J013906.17+524536.89 and follow-up observations from the Las Cumbres Observatory, we identify multiple transit events that recur every ≈107.2 days, much longer than the 4.5–4.9 hr orbital periods observed in WD 1145+017, the only other white dwarf known with transiting planetary debris. The transits vary in both depth and duration, lasting 15–25 days and reaching 20%–45% dips in flux. Optical spectra reveal strong Balmer lines, identifying the white dwarf as a DA with T_eff=10,530 ± 140K and log(g) =7.86 ± 0.06. A Ca ii K absorption feature is present in all spectra both in and out of transit. Spectra obtained during one night at roughly 15% transit depth show increased Ca ii K absorption with a model atmospheric fit suggesting [Ca/H] = −4.6 ± 0.3, whereas spectra taken on three nights out of transit have [Ca/H] of −5.5, −5.3, and −4.9 with similar uncertainties. While the Ca ii K line strength varies by only 2σ, we consider a predominantly interstellar origin for Ca absorption unlikely. We suggest a larger column density of circumstellar metallic gas along the line of site or increased accretion of material onto the white dwarf's surface are responsible for the Ca absorption, but further spectroscopic studies are required. In addition, high-speed time series photometry out of transit reveals variability with periods of 900 and 1030 s, consistent with ZZ Ceti pulsations.
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