NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2015A-0082

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Program Information for 2015A-0082


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

CoI: Alexandros Gianninas, U. of Oklahoma
CoI: Mukremin Kilic, U. of Oklahoma
CoI: Warren Brown, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Scott Kenyon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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. In previous runs we were successful in identifying many new ELM white dwarfs, while our follow-up runs have allowed us to constrain some of their orbital periods. A dozen of these new binaries were submitted for publication this fall. While our 2014B run is scheduled for this upcoming January, further data in the 2015A semester will be required to follow-up on confirmed ELM WDs and constrain the yet unpublished systems in the spring sky. 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.

Program Type: Standard/Galactic

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2015A):  KP-4m/KOSMOS -- 4n on May 14 - May 17 2015


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2015A-0082

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