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Pulsating white dwarfs: new insights
Astronomy and Astrophysics Review ( IF 15.143 ) Pub Date : 2019-09-03 , DOI: 10.1007/s00159-019-0118-4
Alejandro H. Córsico, Leandro G. Althaus, Marcelo M. Miller Bertolami, S. O. Kepler

Stars are extremely important astronomical objects that constitute the pillars on which the Universe is built, and as such, their study has gained increasing interest over the years. White dwarf stars are not the exception. Indeed, these stars constitute the final evolutionary stage for more than 95% of all stars. The Galactic population of white dwarfs conveys a wealth of information about several fundamental issues and are of vital importance to study the structure, evolution and chemical enrichment of our Galaxy and its components—including the star formation history of the Milky Way. Several important studies have emphasized the advantage of using white dwarfs as reliable clocks to date a variety of stellar populations in the solar neighborhood and in the nearest stellar clusters, including the thin and thick disks, the Galactic spheroid and the system of globular and open clusters. In addition, white dwarfs are tracers of the evolution of planetary systems along several phases of stellar evolution. Not less relevant than these applications, the study of matter at high densities has benefited from our detailed knowledge about evolutionary and observational properties of white dwarfs. In this sense, white dwarfs are used as laboratories for astro-particle physics, being their interest focused on physics beyond the standard model, that is, neutrino physics, axion physics and also radiation from “extra dimensions”, and even crystallization. The last decade has witnessed a great progress in the study of white dwarfs. In particular, a wealth of information of these stars from different surveys has allowed us to make meaningful comparison of evolutionary models with observations. While some information like surface chemical composition, temperature and gravity of isolated white dwarfs can be inferred from spectroscopy, and the total mass and radius can be derived as well when they are in binaries, the internal structure of these compact stars can be unveiled only by means of asteroseismology, an approach based on the comparison between the observed pulsation periods of variable stars and the periods predicted by appropriate theoretical models. The asteroseismological techniques allow us to infer details of the internal chemical stratification, the total mass, and even the stellar rotation profile. In this review, we first revise the evolutionary channels currently accepted that lead to the formation of white-dwarf stars, and then, we give a detailed account of the different sub-types of pulsating white dwarfs known so far, emphasizing the recent observational and theoretical advancements in the study of these fascinating variable stars.
更新日期:2019-09-03

 

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