Optical spectroscopy of candidate Alpha Persei white dwarfs

S. L. Casewell, P. D. Dobbie, S. Geier, N. Lodieu, N. C. Hambly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As part of an investigation into the high-mass end of the initial mass-final mass relation we performed a search for new white dwarf members of the nearby (172.4 pc), young (80-90 Myr) α Persei open star cluster. The photometric and astrometric search using the United Kingdom InfraRed Telescope (UKIRT) Infrared Deep Sky Survey and SuperCOSMOS sky surveys discovered 14 new white dwarf candidates. We have obtained medium resolution optical spectra of the brightest 11 candidates using the William Herschel Telescope and confirmed that while 7 are DA white dwarfs, 3 are DB white dwarfs and 1 is an sdOB star, only three have cooling ages within the cluster age, and from their position on the initial mass-final mass relation, it is likely none are cluster members. This result is disappointing, as recent work on the cluster mass function suggests that there should be at least one white dwarf member, even at this young age. It may be that any white dwarf members of α Per are hidden within binary systems, as is the case in the Hyades cluster, however the lack of high-mass stars within the cluster also makes this seem unlikely. One alternative is that a significant level of detection incompleteness in the legacy optical image survey data at this Galactic latitude has caused some white dwarf members to be overlooked. If this is the case, Gaia will find them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4259-4265
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume451
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • white dwarfs

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