August 11-15, 2014


Deriving the Ages of Field White Dwarfs

Ted von Hippel (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University)

David van Dyk (Imperial College London), Shijing Si (Imperial College London), Michael Montgomery (University of Texas at Austin), Erin O'Malley (Dartmouth College), Elliot Robinson (Argiope Technical Solutions), David Stenning (University of California Irvine), Nathan Stein (University of Pennsylvania), Elizabeth Jeffery (James Madison University), Bill Jefferys (University of Texas at Austin), Aaron Webster (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University)

We apply a self-consistent and robust Bayesian statistical approach along with a range of modern model ingredients to determine the ages, distances, and ZAMS masses of old field DA white dwarfs from the Galactic disk, thick disk, and halo. Our technique requires only quality optical and near-IR photometry to derive ages with < 15% uncertainties, generally with little sensitivity to our choice of modern initial-final mass relation. We also analyze halo WDs under the assumption of a small age dispersion and derive an age and age dispersion for the Galactic halo. We additionally predict the capabilities of these techniques in the GAIA era, when we will possess distances accurate to better than 2% for thousands of WDs.

Mode of presentation: oral