August 11-15, 2014


Constraining the Initial-Final Mass Relation Using Wide Double White Dwarfs

Jeffrey Andrews (Columbia University)

Marcel AgŁeros (Columbia University) Saurav Dhital (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) Alexandros Gianninas (University of Oklahoma) Mukremin Kilic (University of Oklahoma)

The initial-final mass relation (IFMR) provides the answer to a simple question: what mass white dwarf (WD) will a given main-sequence star produce? Unfortunately, the standard approaches to converting observations of WDs into constraints on the IFMR suffer from poorly understood systematic errors that limit the data's ability to discriminate between competing theoretically derived IFMRs. We present observational constraints on the IFMR using a newly compiled and characterized set of 112 wide double WDs. Our analysis uses the fact that two coeval WDs of different masses will have a difference in their cooling ages equal to the difference in their pre-WD lifetimes. By making an assumption about the more massive WD in the pair, we can obtain the initial mass of the less massive WD from its pre-WD lifetime. This method avoids some of the difficult-to-model systematics introduced by other methods, generating independent and complementary constraints on the IFMR. To determine the dependence of our assumptions on our derived constraints, we perform extensive testing with the stellar evolution code MESA. Our initial results suggest that the expected yield of wide double WDs from the upcoming Gaia data release may provide the constraints needed to differentiate between various IFMRs produced by stellar evolution codes.

Mode of presentation: oral