The white dwarf luminosity function from sloan digital sky survey imaging data

Hugh C. Harris, Jeffrey A. Munn, Mukremin Kilic, James Liebert, Kurtis A. Williams, Ted Von Hippel, Stephen E. Levine, David G. Monet, Daniel J. Eisenstein, S. J. Kleinman, T. S. Metcalfe, Atsuko Nitta, D. E. Winget, J. Brinkmann, Masataka Fukugita, G. R. Knapp, Robert H. Lupton, J. Allyn Smith, Donald P. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


A sample of white dwarfs is selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 3 using their reduced proper motions, based on improved proper motions from combined SDSS and USNO-B data. Numerous SDSS and follow-up spectra (Kilic and coworkers) are used to quantify completeness and contamination of the sample; kinematics models are used to understand and correct for velocity-dependent selection biases. A luminosity function is constructed covering the range 7 < M bol < 16, and its sensitivity to various assumptions and selection limits is discussed. The white dwarf luminosity function based on 6000 stars is remarkably smooth and rises nearly monotonically to M bol = 15.3. It then drops abruptly, although the small number of low-luminosity stars in the sample and their unknown atmospheric composition prevent quantitative conclusions about this decline. Stars are identified that may have high tangential velocities, and a preliminary luminosity function is constructed for them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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