Monitoring and modelling of white dwarfs with extremely weak magnetic fields
WD 2047+372 and WD 2359-434⋆
1 Armagh Observatory and Planetarium College Hill Armagh BT61 9DG UK
2 Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
3 Special Astrophysical Observatory, RAS, Nizhnij Arkhiz, Zelenchukskij Region, 369167 Karachai-Cherkessian Republic, Russia
Received: 23 June 2017
Accepted: 28 August 2017
Magnetic fields are detected in a few percent of white dwarfs. The number of such magnetic white dwarfs known is now some hundreds. Fields range in strength from a few kG to several hundred MG. Almost all the known magnetic white dwarfs have a mean field modulus ≥1 MG. We are trying to fill a major gap in observational knowledge at the low field limit (≤200 kG) using circular spectro-polarimetry. In this paper we report the discovery and monitoring of strong, periodic magnetic variability in two previously discovered “super-weak field” magnetic white dwarfs, WD 2047+372 and WD 2359-434. WD 2047+372 has a mean longitudinal field that reverses between about −12 and + 15 kG, with a period of 0.243 d, while its mean field modulus appears nearly constant at 60 kG. The observations can be interpreted in terms of a dipolar field tilted with respect to the stellar rotation axis. WD 2359-434 always shows a weak positive longitudinal field with values between about 0 and + 12 kG, varying only weakly with stellar rotation, while the mean field modulus varies between about 50 and 100 kG. The rotation period is found to be 0.112 d using the variable shape of the Hα line core, consistent with available photometry. The field of this star appears to be much more complex than a dipole, and is probably not axisymmetric. Available photometry shows that WD 2359-434 is a light variable with an amplitude of only 0.005 mag; our own photometry shows that if WD 2047+372 is photometrically variable, the amplitude is below about 0.01 mag. These are the first models for magnetic white dwarfs with fields below about 100 kG based on magnetic measurements through the full stellar rotation. They reveal two very different magnetic surface configurations, and that, contrary to simple ohmic decay theory, WD 2359-434 has a much more complex surface field than the much younger WD 2047+372.
Key words: white dwarfs / stars: magnetic field / stars: individual: WD 2047+372 / stars: individual: WD 2359-434
Based, in part, on observations collected at the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile, under observing programmes 095.D-0264 and 097.D-0264, and obtained from the ESO/ST-ECF Science Archive Facility; in part, on observations made with the William Herschel Telescope, operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias; and in part on observations obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, and the University of Hawaii.
© ESO, 2017