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The Ultramassive White Dwarfs of the Alpha Persei Cluster

Miller, David R. and Caiazzo, Ilaria and Heyl, Jeremy and Richer, Harvey B. and Tremblay, Pier-Emmanuel (2022) The Ultramassive White Dwarfs of the Alpha Persei Cluster. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 926 (2). Art. No. L24. ISSN 2041-8205. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ac50a5.

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We searched through the entire Gaia EDR3 candidate white dwarf catalog for stars with proper motions and positions that are consistent with them having escaped from the Alpha Persei cluster within the past 81 Myr, the age of the cluster. In this search we found five candidate white dwarf escapees from Alpha Persei and obtained spectra for all of them. We confirm that three are massive white dwarfs sufficiently young to have originated in the cluster. All these are more massive than any white dwarf previously associated with a cluster using Gaia astrometry, and possess some of the most massive progenitors. In particular, the white dwarf Gaia EDR3 4395978097863572, which lies within 25 pc of the cluster center, has a mass of about 1.20 solar masses and evolved from an 8.5 solar-mass star, pushing the upper limit for white dwarf formation from a single massive star, while still leaving a substantial gap between the resulting white dwarf mass and the Chandrasekhar mass.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemGentile-Fusilo Gaia EDR3 WD catalog
Miller, David R.0000-0002-4591-1903
Caiazzo, Ilaria0000-0002-4770-5388
Heyl, Jeremy0000-0001-9739-367X
Richer, Harvey B.0000-0001-9002-8178
Tremblay, Pier-Emmanuel0000-0001-9873-0121
Additional Information:© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 October 29; revised 2022 January 27; accepted 2022 January 28; published 2022 February 21. This work was supported in part by NSERC Canada and Compute Canada. I.C. is a Sherman Fairchild Fellow at Caltech and thanks the Burke Institute at Caltech for supporting her research. This research has made use of the SIMBAD and Vizier databases, operated at CDS, Strasbourg, France and the Montreal White Dwarf Database produced and maintained by Prof. Patrick Dufour (Université de Montrèal) and Dr. Simon Blouin (LANL), This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. This work includes results based on observations obtained at the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF's NOIRLab, which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation on behalf of the Gemini Observatory partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), National Research Council (Canada), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Argentina), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brazil), and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea). Some of the data presented herein 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. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) and the PS1 public science archive have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, the Queen's University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation grant No. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Gemini spectra were processed using the Gemini IRAF package. LRIS spectra were reduced using the Lpipe pipeline (Perley 2019). DBSP Spectra were reduced using the DBSP_DRP pipeline (Roberson et al. 2021). Facilities: Gaia (DR2 & EDR3) - , Gemini-North (GMOS) - , Keck:I (LRIS) - , Palomar (DBSP). - Software: Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013, 2018), WD_models ( Data Availability. We constructed the cluster escapee white dwarf catalog from the Gentile-Fusilo Gaia EDR3 WD catalog available at Data from GALEX and Pan-STARRS1 were obtained with Vizier and used in preliminary analysis.
Group:TAPIR, Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Gaia Multilateral AgreementUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of MarylandUNSPECIFIED
Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE)UNSPECIFIED
Los Alamos National LaboratoryUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:White dwarf stars; Stellar evolution; Star clusters
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: White dwarf stars (1799); Stellar evolution (1599); Star clusters (1567)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220222-706718000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:David R. Miller et al 2022 ApJL 926 L24
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113529
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:23 Feb 2022 02:15
Last Modified:23 Feb 2022 02:15

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