NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0084

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0084


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: Alex Gianninas, University of Oklahoma
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. Using Gemini, GTC, and McDonald 2.1m, we have published a preliminary measurement of this system's orbital decay. The major uncertainties in comparing our \dot P measurement with the predictions of general relativity are the unknown contribution of tidal heating and whether or not the system is tidally locked. Thus we propose to obtain Gemini/GMOS high speed photometric observations of J0651 in two epochs (Feb and Apr 2013) to significantly improve our \dot P measurement. We expect the system's time-of-eclipse will shift 20 sec by April 2013; a larger shift will betray the amount of tidal heating. More importantly, we propose to measure the spin rate of the primary white dwarf via the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect using Keck/LRIS spectroscopy. This system's rapid change in orbital period will provide an unprecedented test of tidal physics in merging white dwarfs and test general relativity in a new regime.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0084

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