NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0189

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Proposal Information for 2014A-0189


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

CoI: Alexandros Gianninas, University of Oklahoma
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 opened up with the availability of 14,600 deg^2 of SDSS Data Release 9 photometry. The Extremely Low-Mass (ELM) Survey takes advantage of this photometry and SDSS spectroscopy to identify compact systems with 1 hour or shorter orbital periods. To significantly increase the number of merging white dwarf systems known, we have proposed to obtain follow- up spectroscopic observations of all candidates with g \le 19 mag and photometric colors consistent with extremely low-mass (\le 0.3 M_\odot) white dwarfs. Most of our 2012A Hale and 2012B KP 4m observing runs were lost to weather, yet we managed to identify at least one new short period binary. Our 2013A run on the KP 4m was successful in identifying many new ELM white dwarfs. Here we propose to continue our program by observing these spring targets on the KP 4m telescope to constrain their binary orbital periods. 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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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0189

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