IRTF observations of white dwarfs with possible near-infrared excess


  • J. Farihi

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH
    2. Visiting Astronomer at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility
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Near-infrared photometry and spectroscopy are obtained for a heterogeneous sample of nearby white dwarfs with possible excess flux as identified primarily in the Two Micron All Sky Survey. Among the sample of 43 stars are a number of white dwarfs that are either metal-rich, magnetic or binary suspects. With a few notable exceptions in four (or possibly five) distinct categories, the newly obtained JHK photometric data fail to corroborate the putative excesses, with KIRTFK2MASS〉=+0.31 mag. Where available, Galaxy Evolution Explorer photometric data are used to better constrain the overall spectral energy distribution of the white dwarfs, enabling any excess near-infrared flux to stand out more readily against the expected stellar photosphere.

With superior data, a near-infrared photometric excess is confirmed at three metal-rich white dwarfs and ruled out at nine others. Several new binaries are confirmed or suggested; five white dwarf–red dwarf pairs and five double degenerates. Four apparently single magnetic white dwarfs – two DA and two DQp – display modest to strong near-infrared excess (relative to non-magnetic models), which may be better described as two effective temperatures owing to a redistribution of energy in highly magnetic or peculiar atmospheres.