Hot subdwarf stars in close-up view*
I. Rotational properties of subdwarf B stars in close binary systems and nature of their unseen companions
S. Geier1, U. Heber1, Ph. Podsiadlowski2, H. Edelmann1, R. Napiwotzki3, T. Kupfer1 and S. Müller1
Dr. Karl Remeis-Observatory & ECAP, Astronomical Institute,
Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Sternwartstr. 7, 96049 Bamberg, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Department of Astrophysics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH, UK
3 Centre of Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
Accepted: 26 May 2010
The origin of hot subdwarf B stars (sdBs) is still unclear. About half of the known sdBs are in close binary systems for which common envelope ejection is the most likely formation channel. Little is known about this dynamic phase of binary evolution. Since most of the known sdB systems are single-lined spectroscopic binaries, it is difficult to derive masses and unravel the companions' nature, which is the aim of this paper. Due to the tidal influence of the companion in close binary systems, the rotation of the primary becomes synchronised to its orbital motion. In this case it is possible to constrain the mass of the companion, if the primary mass, its projected rotational velocity as well as its surface gravity are known. For the first time we measured the projected rotational velocities of a large sdB binary sample from high resolution spectra. We analysed a sample of 51 sdB stars in close binaries, 40 of which have known orbital parameters comprising half of all such systems known today. Synchronisation in sdB binaries is discussed both from the theoretical and the observational point of view. The masses and the nature of the unseen companions could be constrained in 31 cases. We found orbital synchronisation most likely to be established in binaries with orbital periods shorter than . Only in five cases it was impossible to decide whether the sdB's companion is a white dwarf or an M dwarf. The companions to seven sdBs could be clearly identified as late M stars. One binary may have a brown dwarf companion. The unseen companions of nine sdBs are white dwarfs with typical masses. The mass of one white dwarf companion is very low. In eight cases (including the well known system KPD1930+2752) the companion mass exceeds , four of which even exceed the Chandrasekhar limit indicating that they may be neutron stars. Even stellar mass black holes are possible for the most massive companions. The distribution of the inclinations of the systems with low mass companions appears to be consistent with expectations, whereas a lack of high inclinations becomes obvious for the massive systems. We show that the formation of such systems can be explained with common envelope evolution and present an appropriate formation channel including two phases of unstable mass transfer and one supernova explosion. The sample also contains a candidate post-RGB star, which rotates fast despite its long orbital period. The post-RGB stars are expected to spin-up caused by their ongoing contraction. The age of the sdB is another important factor. If the EHB star is too young, the synchronisation process might not be finished yet. Estimating the ages of the target stars from their positions on the EHB band, we found PG 2345+318, which is known not to be synchronised, to lie near the zero-age extreme horizontal branch as are the massive candidates PG 1232-136, PG 1432+159 and PG 1101+249. These star may possibly be too young to have reached synchronisation. The derived large fraction of putative massive sdB binary systems in low inclination orbits is inconsistent with theoretical predictions. Even if we dismiss three candidates because they may be too young and assume that the other sdB primaries are of low mass, PG 1743+477 and, in particular, HE 0532-4503 remain as candidates whose companions may have masses close to or above the Chandrasekhar limit. X-ray observations and accurate photometry are suggested to clarify their nature. As high inclination systems must also exist, an appropriate survey has already been launched to find such binaries.
Key words: binaries: spectroscopic / subdwarfs / stars: rotation
Based on observations at the Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory for programmes number 165.H-0588(A), 167.D-0407(A), 068.D-0483(A), 069.D-0534(A), 070.D-0334(A), 071.D-0380(A), 071.D-0383(A) and 382.D-0841(A). Based on observations at the La Silla Observatory of the European Southern Observatory for programmes number 073.D-0495(A), 074.B-0455(A) and 077.D-0515(A). Some of the data used in this work were obtained at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which is a joint project of the University of Texas at Austin, the Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, for programmes number UT07-2-004 and UT07-3-005. The HET is named in honor of its principal benefactors, William P. Hobby and Robert E. Eberly. Based on observations collected at the Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto, operated jointly by the Max-Planck Institut für Astronomie and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). Some of the data presented here were obtained at the W.M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation. Some of the data used in this work were obtained at the Palomar Observatory, owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. Based on observations with the William Herschel Telescope operated by the Isaac Newton Group at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias on the island of La Palma, Spain.
© ESO, 2010