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Researchers Establish Catalog of Short Period Spectroscopic and Eclipsing Binaries

Sep 15, 2020

Researchers SHAN Susu, YANG Fan, and LIU Jifeng from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) established a catalog of spectroscopic and eclipsing binaries. The result was published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement on August 7. 

The catalog is the first one with sources identified as both spectroscopic and eclipsing binaries, taking advantage of observations from both the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) and the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) surveys.  

Binary systems, common in stars, play an important role in determining stellar parameters, understanding the evolution of stars, measuring distances, and tracing black hole candidates. Binaries usually appear as a single point in images due to the distances involved. Some binary stars can be identified from optical spectra and are termed spectroscopic binaries (SB).  

Among all the binary stars, a very small fraction, closely aligned to the line of sight, are revealed as eclipsing, the so-called eclipsing binaries (EB). They allow us to derive the fundamental stellar parameters such as mass, radius, and luminosity. Thus, binary systems serve as test beds for stellar evolution theories. 

The spectroscopic and eclipsing binaries provide the most comprehensive constraints on the binary parameters. Spectra tell us more about the observable stars, e.g. age, surface gravity, effective temperature, while the light curves are used to determine the orbital properties of the transit system. 

However, among the identified spectroscopic binaries, the systems revealing eclipsing phenomena are rare. The journal reviewer added, "This itself is a noble cause, as such efforts for 'classical', dedicated observations of single stars would take years to reach the same results". The catalog is based on the powerful spectra observations from LAMOST and thereby the enormous data sets. 

The catalog contains 88 spectroscopic and eclipsing binaries, among which 13 sources are newly identified as binaries. All the binaries have good quality light curves.

The catalog also contains orbital parameters, as well as the stellar parameters of the observable companion. The binaries in the catalog are mostly with a period less than one day and show the 0.22 day cut-off in period distribution, which supports the rareness of binary stars rotating with such a period. 

This work provides observations for further research of binary star evolution. The researchers are also working on with LAMOST and ZTF (the upgrade of PTF) data, trying to find very short-period binary systems, which serve as a remarkable laboratory for General relativistic phenomena.  

A Catalog of Short Period Spectroscopic and Eclipsing Binaries Identified from the LAMOST and PTF Surveys

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