Journal Article

White dwarf kinematics versus mass

Christopher Wegg and E. Sterl Phinney

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 426, issue 1, pages 427-439
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online October 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
White dwarf kinematics versus mass

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We investigated the relationship between the kinematics and mass of young (<3 × 108 yr) white dwarfs using proper motions. Our sample is taken from the colour-selected catalogues of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Palomar–Green Survey, both of which have spectroscopic temperature and gravity determinations. We find that the dispersion decreases with increasing white dwarf mass. This can be explained as a result of less scattering by objects in the Galactic disc during the shorter lifetime of their more massive progenitors. A direct result of this is that white dwarfs with high mass have a reduced scale height, and hence their local density is enhanced over their less massive counterparts. In addition, we have investigated whether the kinematics of the highest mass white dwarfs (>0.95 M) are consistent with the expected relative contributions of single star evolution and mergers. We find that the kinematics are consistent with the majority of high-mass white dwarfs being formed through single star evolution.

Keywords: white dwarfs; Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics

Journal Article.  8169 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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