A Systematic Study of the Connection Between White Dwarf Period Spectra and Model Structure

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To date, pulsational variability has been measured for nearly 70 pulsating helium-atmosphere white dwarfs (DBVs) and 500 pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarfs (DAVs), with only a fraction of these having been the subject of asteroseismic analysis. One way to approach white dwarf asteroseismology is forward modeling, where one assumes an interior structure and calculates the model’s periods. Many such models are calculated, in the search for the one that best matches the observed period spectrum. It is not computationally manageable, nor necessary, to vary every possible parameter for every object. We engage in a systematic study, based on a sample of 14 hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarfs, chosen to be representative of the types of pulsation spectra we encounter in white dwarf asteroseismology. These white dwarfs are modeled with carbon and oxygen cores. Our goal is to draw a connection between the period spectra and what parameters to which they are most sensitive. We find that the presence of longer-period modes generally muddies the mass and effective temperature determinations, unless continuous sequences of ℓ = 1 and ℓ = 2 modes are present. All period spectra are sensitive to the structure in the helium and hydrogen envelopes and most to at least some features of the oxygen abundance profile. Such sensitivity can be achieved either by the presence of specific low-radial-overtone modes, or by the presence of longer-period modes. Convective efficiency only matters when fitting periods greater than 800 s. The results of this study can be used to inform parameter selection and pave the way to pipeline asteroseismic fitting of white dwarfs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number41
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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