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An Empirical Measurement of the Initial–Final Mass Relation with Gaia White Dwarfs

El-Badry, Kareem and Rix, Hans-Walter and Weisz, Daniel R. (2018) An Empirical Measurement of the Initial–Final Mass Relation with Gaia White Dwarfs. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 860 (2). Art. No. L17. ISSN 2041-8213. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aaca9c.

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We use data from Gaia's second data release (DR2) to constrain the initial–final mass relation (IFMR) for field stars with initial masses 0.9 ≲ mᵢₙ/M_⊙ ≲ 8. Precise parallaxes have revealed unprecedented substructure in the white dwarf (WD) cooling sequence on the color–magnitude diagram (CMD). Some of this substructure stems from the diversity of WD atmospheric compositions, but the CMD remains bimodal even when only spectroscopically confirmed DA WDs are considered. We develop a generative model to predict the CMD for DA WDs as a function of the initial mass function, stellar age distribution, and a flexibly parameterized IFMR. We then fit the CMD of 1100 bright DA WDs within 100 pc, for which atmospheric composition and completeness are well understood. The resulting best-fit IFMR flattens at 3.5 ≲ mᵢₙ/M_⊙ ≲ 5.5, producing a secondary peak in the WD mass distribution at m_(WD_ ∼ 0.8 M_⊙. Our IFMR is broadly consistent with weaker constraints obtained from binaries and star clusters in previous work but represents the clearest observational evidence obtained to date of theoretically predicted nonlinearity in the IFMR. A visibly bimodal CMD is only predicted for mixed-age stellar populations: in single-age clusters, more massive WDs reach the bottom of the cooling sequence before the first lower-mass WDs appear. This may explain why bimodal cooling sequences have thus far evaded detection in cluster CMDs.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
El-Badry, Kareem0000-0002-6871-1752
Rix, Hans-Walter0000-0003-4996-9069
Weisz, Daniel R.0000-0002-6442-6030
Additional Information:© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. We thank the referee for constructive comments and Pierre Bergeron for providing WD model photometry. We thank Ted von Hippel, JJ Hermes, Bart Dunlap, Mukremin Kilic, David W. Hogg, Marla Geha, Eliot Quataert, Jan Rybizki, Marc Pinsonneault, and Yuan-Sen Ting for helpful discussions. K.E. was supported by the SFB 881 program (A3). D.R.W. is supported by fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. This research was started at the NYC Gaia DR2 Workshop at the Center for Computational Astrophysics of the Flatiron Institute in April 2018. This work has made use of data from the ESA Gaia mission processed by DPAC.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)SFB 881
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Alexander von Humboldt FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Gaia Multilateral AgreementUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230105-893224000.5
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:118689
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:20 Jan 2023 20:12
Last Modified:20 Jan 2023 20:12

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