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Astrophysics Colloquium

Gravitational Wave Astrophysics without the Waves
Presented by Tom Prince
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Thursday, May 16, 2019
11:00 A.M. in 169-336

Compact binary mergers have been in the news lately with discoveries by LIGO/Virgo of NS-NS, BH-BH, and possibly NS-BH mergers (NS=Neutron Star, BH=Black Hole). Compact WD-WD binaries (WD=White Dwarf) are another strong source of gravitational waves. These will be detectable by the future Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), with numbers in the tens of thousands. Fortunately, these WD-WD binaries are also detectable at optical, ultraviolet, and x-ray bands and a handful of LISA-detectable sources are already known. These allow us to study the astrophysics of such systems without directly detecting the actual gravitational waves.

In this talk I will describe a new detection of a 7-minute eclipsing WD-WD from last June by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). This is the shortest period eclipsing binary ever discovered, allowing excellent determination of system parameters. The binary is expected to be a strong emitter of gravitational waves, allowing measurement of the orbital decay due to gravitational wave emission. We have been undertaking precision timing measurements since last June and I will describe the results of those measurements. I will also briefly discuss additional new compact binary systems being found by ZTF.

SVCP Astrophysics

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