SDSS 1355+0856: A detached white dwarf + M star binary in the period gap discovered by the SWARMS survey

Carles Badenes, Marten H. van Kerkwijk, Mukremin Kilic, Steven J. Bickerton, Tsevi Mazeh, Fergal Mullally, Lev Tal-Or, Susan E. Thompson

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SDSS J135523.92 + 085645.4 (SDSS 1355+0856) was identified as a hot white dwarf with a companion from time-resolved Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopy as part of the ongoing Sloan White Dwarf Radial velocity data Mining Survey survey. Follow-up observations with the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5 m telescope and the Multiple Mirror Telescope revealed weak emission lines in the central cores of the Balmer absorption lines during some phases of the orbit, but no line emission during other phases. This can be explained if SDSS 1355+0856 is a detached white dwarf + M dwarf binary similar to GD 448, where one of the hemispheres of the low-mass companion is irradiated by the proximity of the hot white dwarf. Based on the available data, we derive an orbital period of 0.114 38 ± 0.000 06 d, a primary mass of 0.46 ± 0.01 M⊙, a secondary mass between 0.083 and 0.097 M⊙, and an orbital inclination larger than 57°. This makes SDSS 1355+0856 one of the shortest period post-common envelope white dwarf + M dwarf binaries, and the record holder for the lowest mass stellar companion, which has interesting implications for our understanding of common envelope evolution and the phenomenology of cataclysmic variables. The short cooling time of the WD (25 Myr) implies that the system emerged from the common envelope phase with an orbital period very similar to what we observe today, and was born in the period gap of cataclysmic variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3596-3603
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Close-binaries
  • Individual
  • Spectroscopic-stars
  • binaries


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