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Intermediate-mass Stars Become Magnetic White Dwarfs

Caiazzo, Ilaria and Heyl, Jeremy and Richer, Harvey and Cummings, Jeffrey and Fleury, Leesa and Hegarty, James and Kalirai, Jason and Kerr, Ronan and Thiele, Sarah and Tremblay, Pier-Emmanuel and Villanueva, Michael (2020) Intermediate-mass Stars Become Magnetic White Dwarfs. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 901 (1). Art. No. L14. ISSN 2041-8213. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/abb5f7.

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When a star exhausts its nuclear fuel, it either explodes as a supernova or more quiescently becomes a white dwarf, an object about half the mass of our Sun with a radius of about that of the Earth. About one-fifth of white dwarfs exhibit the presence of magnetic fields, whose origin has long been debated as either the product of previous stages of evolution or of binary interactions. We here report the discovery of two massive and magnetic white-dwarf members of young star clusters in the Gaia second data release (DR2) database, while a third massive and magnetic cluster white dwarf was already reported in a previous paper. These stars are most likely the product of single-star evolution and therefore challenge the merger scenario as the only way to produce magnetic white dwarfs. The progenitor masses of these stars are all above 5 solar masses, and there are only two other cluster white dwarfs whose distances have been unambiguously measured with Gaia and whose progenitors' masses fall in this range. This high incidence of magnetic white dwarfs indicates that intermediate-mass progenitors are more likely to produce magnetic remnants and that a fraction of magnetic white dwarfs forms from intermediate-mass stars.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Caiazzo, Ilaria0000-0002-4770-5388
Heyl, Jeremy0000-0001-9739-367X
Richer, Harvey0000-0001-9002-8178
Cummings, Jeffrey0000-0001-7453-9947
Fleury, Leesa0000-0002-7022-8380
Hegarty, James0000-0003-0933-945X
Kalirai, Jason0000-0001-9690-4159
Tremblay, Pier-Emmanuel0000-0001-9873-0121
Additional Information:© 2020. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 July 28; revised 2020 September 4; accepted 2020 September 6; published 2020 September 22. We would like to thank Jim Fuller for useful discussions and the suggestion that the ASCC 47 white dwarf may be magnetic. The research was supported by NSERC Canada, the NSF, Compute Canada, a Burke Fellowship at Caltech and a Four-Year Fellowship at UBC. The research leading to these results has also received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program No. 677706 (WD3D). This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia and is based on observations obtained under program IDs GS-2019B-FT-104 (ASCC 47), GS-2018B-FT-108 (M 47), and GN-2019A-FT-214 (M 39) at the international Gemini Observatory. This work is also based on data products from observations made with ESO Telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under program ID 177.D-3023, as part of the VST Photometric Halpha Survey of the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge (VPHAS+, and on data from the Pan-STARRS1 Survey (PS1) and the PS1 public science archive. We used the Montreal White Dwarf website (, the PARSEC stellar models (, the MIST stellar models (, and the VizieR catalog access tool, CDS, Strasbourg, France (DOI :10.26093/cds/vizier). Facilities: Gaia - , Gemini Observatory(GMOS) - , VLT(VPHAS+ Survey) - , Pan-STARRS(PS1 Survey). - Software: IRAF (Tody 1986).
Group:Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, CaltechUNSPECIFIED
University of British ColumbiaUNSPECIFIED
European Research Council (ERC)677706
Subject Keywords:Young star clusters ; Open star clusters ; White dwarf stars ; DA stars ; DB stars ; Magnetic stars ; Magnetic fields ; Stellar evolution ; Stellar magnetic fields
Issue or Number:1
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Young star clusters (1833); Open star clusters (1160); White dwarf stars (1799); DA stars (348); DB stars (358); Magnetic stars (995); Magnetic fields (994); Stellar evolution (1599); Stellar magnetic fields (1610)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200925-135425215
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ilaria Caiazzo et al 2020 ApJL 901 L14
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105564
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:25 Sep 2020 22:07
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:44

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