NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2018A-0194

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Program Information for 2018A-0194


PI: Michael Warrener, Yale U., michael.warrener@yale.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, PO BOX 208101, NEW HAVEN, CT 06520-8101 USA

CoI: Marla Geha, Yale U.
CoI: Charles D Bailyn, Yale U.

Title: A Search for Quiescent Stellar Mass Black Hole Binaries

Abstract: Stellar population models predict that there are hundreds of millions of stellar mass black holes in the Milky Way galaxy, but to date only 18(22) confirmed(candidate) systems have been detected. All of these black holes reside in binaries with a stellar companion and were detected due to X-ray emission from accretion. Here we propose a search for stellar black hole binaries based only on their optical light curves. Long-term observations of the confirmed black hole binary (BHB) systems show that BHBs spend most of their time in quiescence where they produce optical light curves with ellipsoidal variations due to the stellar companion filling its Roche lobe. We have generated a suite of synthetic light curves for BHB systems and normal stellar binary systems. We find that BHBs can be distinguished from stellar binaries based solely on their light curves. This is a novel method for identifying BHB candidates. We have generated a list of candidate BHBs by applying this technique to a variety of time-domain surveys. Here, we request a total of 5.23 hours with the Gemini GMOS to obtain spectroscopic follow-up of 5 BHB candidates to determine their dynamical masses and assess whether these systems do in fact harbor black holes.

Program Type: Standard/Galactic

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2018A):  GEM-SQ/GMOSS -- 14.4hrs band 3 (GS-2018A-Q-302 )


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2018A-0194

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