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A High-Precision Optical Polarimeter to Measure Inclinations of High-Mass X-Ray Binaries

Wiktorowicz, Sloane J. and Matthews, Keith (2008) A High-Precision Optical Polarimeter to Measure Inclinations of High-Mass X-Ray Binaries. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 120 (874). pp. 1282-1297. ISSN 0004-6280. doi:10.1086/595966.

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We present commissioning data for the POLISH instrument obtained on the Hale 5-m telescope. The goal of this high-precision polarimeter is to constrain orbital inclination of high-mass X-ray binaries and therefore to obtain independent mass estimates for their black-hole companions. We have obtained photon shot-noise–limited precision on standard stars, and we have measured the polarization of bright stars at the part-per-million level on a nightly basis. Systematic effects have been reduced to less than 1% of the measured polarization for polarized sources and to the part-per-million level for weakly polarized sources. The high sensitivity of this instrument to asymmetry suggests that valuable contributions will be made in many other fields, including studies of extrasolar planets, debris disks, and stellar astrophysics.

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Wiktorowicz, Sloane J.0000-0003-4483-5037
Additional Information:© 2008. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Received 2008 September 24; accepted 2008 October 29; published 2008 November 19. S.J.W. would like to thank Shrinivas Kulkarni, Michael Ireland, and Ian McEwan for valuable discussions on instrumentation, polarimetry, and signal processing. In addition, the help of the Palomar Observatory staff, especially Bruce Baker, Karl Dunscombe, John Henning, Greg van Idsinga, and Steve Kunsman, has been essential. We would like to thank the anonymous referee for helpful comments on this manuscript. We would like to acknowledge support from the Moore Foundation. This research has made use of the SIMBAD database, operated at CDS, Strasbourg, France.
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Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:874
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:WIKpasp08
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ID Code:13043
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:17 Jan 2009 00:59
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:35

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