A type of eccentric binary star that undergoes extreme dynamic tidal forces, known as Heartbeat stars, were discovered by the Kepler Mission. As the two stars pass through periastron, the tidal distortion causes unique brightness variations. Short period, eccentric binary stars, like these, are theorized to pseudosynchronize, or reach a rotational frequency that matches the weighted average orbital angular velocity of the system. This pseudosynchronous rate, as predicted by Hut (1981), depends on the binary's orbital period and eccentricity. We tested whether sixteen heartbeat stars have pseudosynchronized. We measure the rotation rate from obvious spot signatures in the light curve. We measure the eccentricity by fitting the light curve using PHOEBE and are actively carrying out a radial velocity monitoring program with Keck/HIRES in order to improve these orbital parameters. Our initial results show that while most heartbeat stars appear to have pseudosynchronized we find stars with rotation frequencies both longer and shorter than this rate. We thank the SETI Institute REU program, the NSF, and the Kepler Guest Observer Program for making this work possible.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #227
- Pub Date:
- January 2016