Volume 386, Number 1, April IV 2002
|Page(s)||L13 - L17|
|Published online||15 April 2002|
Letter to the Editor
RX J0806.3+1527: A double degenerate binary with the shortest known orbital period (321s)*
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, V. Frascati 33, 00040 Monteporzio Catone, Italy
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl–Schwarzschildstr. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via Bianchi 46, 23807 Merate, Italy
4 Landessternwarte Heidelberg, Königstuhl 12, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
5 Institut für Physik, Universitäts-Sternwarte München, Scheinerstr. 1, 81673 München, Germany
6 Subaru Telescope, NAOJ, 650 North A'ohoku Place, Hilo, Hawaii, HI 96720, USA
7 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago, Chile
8 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, L–43, 7000 East Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
9 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Sede di Asiago, 36012 Asiago, Italy
10 Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France
11 Universitätssternwarte Göttingen, Geismarlandstr. 11, 37083 Göttingen, Germany
12 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino, Strada Osservatorio 20, 10025, Pino Torinese (To), Italy
Corresponding author: G. L. Israel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 1 March 2002
We carried out optical observations of the field of the X–ray pulsator RX J0806.3+1527. A blue 21.1 star was found to be the only object consistent with the X–ray position. VLT FORS spectra revealed a blue continuum with no intrinsic absorption lines. Broad ( 1500 km s-1), low equivalent width (~–1 –6 Å) emission lines from the HeII Pickering series were clearly detected. B, V and R time–resolved photometry revealed the presence of ~15% pulsations at the ~321 s X–ray period, confirming the identification. These findings, together with the period stability and absence of any additional modulation in the 1 min5 hr period range, argue in favour of the orbital interpretation of the 321 s pulsations. The most likely scenario is thus that RX J0806.3+1527 is a double degenerate system of the AM CVn class. This would make RX J0806.3+1527 the shortest orbital period binary currently known and one of the best candidates for gravitational wave detection.
Key words: stars: individual: / RX J0806.3+1527, 1BMW J080622.8+152732 / binaries: close / stars: white dwarfs / stars: emission-line / X-rays: stars
© ESO, 2002
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