NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2012B-0114

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Proposal Information for 2012B-0114


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

CoI: Mukremin Kilic, University of Oklahoma
CoI: Warren Brown, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
CoI: Scott Kenyon, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Title: The ELM Survey: Finding the Shortest Period Binary White Dwarfs

Abstract: A new discovery space for short period binary white dwarfs has been opened up with the availability of 14,000 deg^2 of SDSS Data Release 8 photometry. The Extremely Low-Mass (ELM) Survey takes advantage of the SDSS photometry and spectroscopy to identify compact systems with 1 hr or shorter orbital periods. To significantly increase the number of merging white dwarf systems known, we propose to obtain follow-up spectroscopic observations of all candidates with g \le 19.5 mag and photometric colors consistent with extremely low-mass (<=0.3 M_\odot) white dwarfs. We were granted 4 nights of Hale 5m in April 2012. Here we propose to continue our program by observing our fall targets on either the Hale 5m or the KPNO 4m telescopes. Our two major science goals are to discover detached gravitational wave sources for fundamental tests of general relativity, and to constrain the formation rate and space density of merging white dwarfs. The latter is important for constraining the contribution of double degenerates to Type Ia and underluminous supernovae.


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