We have serendipitously discovered the first metal-polluted white dwarf with what appears to be a circumbinary dust disk. Both the atmospheric metals and infrared excess were found by our team a few years ago, but only recently did we (surprisingly!) identify a spectroscopic periodicity of 2.27 hr which unambiguously identifies this peculiar system as a close binary. Most remarkable for this proposal is that the system must be dynamically unstable, as a companion and canonical (flat, opaque) dust disk occupy overlapping orbital regions. We thus strongly suspected the system must be in a state of relatively rapid change, and recent DDT observations confirmed our hypothesis. We now propose to observe the system over a complete binary orbit to further constrain the changes in infrared flux, and to distentangle dust emission variability from any changes induced by the binary orbit itself. Micron-size dust grains should be subject to PR drag within a decade, and imply dust depletion on yearly timescales -- consistent with the DDT data. Our third epoch observations will provide an direct test by searching for a continuing decrease in dust emission. If such a decrease is not confirmed, it would imply the circumbinary dust reservoir is being replenished on yearly timescales.
- Pub Date:
- October 2015