August 11-15, 2014


Metal Accretion onto White Dwarfs. I. The Approximate Approach Based on Estimates of Diffusion Timescales

Gilles Fontaine (Université de Montréal)

Pierre Brassard (Université de Montréal), Patrick Dufour (Université de Montréal), and Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay (Space Telescope Science Institute)

The accretion-diffusion picture is the model par excellence for describing the presence of planetary debris polluting the atmospheres of relatively cool white dwarfs. Some important insights into the process may be derived using an approximate approach which combines static stellar models with estimates of diffusion timescales at the base of the outer convection zone or, in its absence, at the photosphere. Until recently, and to our knowledge, values of diffusion timescales in white dwarfs have all been obtained on the basis of the same physics as that developed initially by Paquette et al. (1986a, ApJS, 61, 197), including the diffusion coefficients and thermal diffusion coefficients of Paquette et al. (1986b, ApJS, 61, 177). In view of the recent exciting discoveries of a plethora of metals (including some never seen before) polluting the atmospheres of an increasing number of cool white dwarfs, we felt that a new look at the estimates of settling timescales would be worthwhile. We thus provide improved estimates of diffusion timescales for all 27 elements from Li to Cu in the periodic table in a wide range of the surface gravity-effective temperature domain and for both DA and non-DA stars.

Mode of presentation: poster