NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2012A-0046

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Proposal Information for 2012A-0046


PI: Mukremin Kilic, University of Oklahoma, kilic@ou.edu
Address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, 440 W. Brooks St., Norman, OK 73019, USA

CoI: J.J. Hermes, University of Texas
CoI: Warren Brown, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
CoI: Scott Kenyon, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
CoI: Don Winget, University of Texas

Title: Gravitational Waves from the 12 minute Orbital Period Binary White Dwarf J0651+2844

Abstract: We have recently discovered a powerful laboratory for gravitational wave physics, a 12.75 min eclipsing detached binary white dwarf. The system has a gravitational wave strain of 10^-22, about 10,000 times larger than the Hulse Taylor pulsar, and will come into contact in less than 1 Myr due to loss of energy and angular momentum via gravitational wave radiation. There is no evidence for mass transfer, thus J0651 is arguably the cleanest known strong gravitational wave source. General relativity predicts that the system's time-of-eclipse will shift by 5.5 sec one year after our discovery (April 2011). Tidal interactions are also predicted to change the time-of-eclipse by an additional 0.3 s. Here we propose to obtain Gemini/GMOS high speed photometric observations of J0651 in two epochs (February and April 2012) with the goal of measuring its rate of period change from mid-eclipse timing observations. These measurements are important for understanding the physics of tidal heating, the white dwarf tidal Q parameter, and the degree of tidal locking in a compact binary. This system's rapid change in orbital period will test general relativity in a new regime.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2012A-0046

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