Journal Club



"Studies of RR Lyrae Variables in Binary Systems. I. Evidence of a Trimodal Companion Mass Distribution"

Gergely Hajdu (NCAC, Warsaw)

We present 87 candidates for RR Lyrae variable stars in binary systems, based on our new search using the light-travel time effect (LTTE) and observed - calculated (O - C) diagrams in the Galactic bulge time-series photometry of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment. Out of these, 61 are new candidates, while 26 have been announced previously. Furthermore, 12 stars considered as binary candidates in earlier works are discarded from the list, either because they were found to have O - C diagrams incompatible with the LTTE or because their long-term periodicity is definitely caused by the Blazhko effect. This sample of RR Lyrae binary candidates allows us to draw the first firm conclusions about the population of such objects: no candidate has an orbital period below 1000 days, while their occurrence rate steadily increases with increasing period, and peaks between 3000 and 4000 days; however, the decrease in the number of stars toward even longer periods is probably the result of observational biases. The eccentricities show a very significant concentration between 0.25 and 0.3, with a quarter of candidates found in this single bin, overlaid on an otherwise flat distribution between 0.05 and 0.6. Only six stars have inferred eccentricities above 0.6. Lastly, the distribution of the mass functions is highly peculiar, exhibiting strong trimodality. We interpret these modes as the presence of three distinct groups of companions, with typical inferred masses of ~0.6, ~0.2, and ~0.067 M⊙, which can be associated with populations of white dwarf and main sequence, red dwarf, and brown dwarf companions, respectively.

Hajdu, Gergely, et al., The Astrophysical Journal (2021)

"Tidal star-planet interaction and its observed impact on stellar activity in planet-hosting wide binary systems"

Gergely Hajdu (NCAC, Warsaw)

Tidal interaction between an exoplanet and its host star is a possible pathway to transfer angular momentum between the planetary orbit and the stellar spin. In cases where the planetary orbital period is shorter than the stellar rotation period, this may lead to angular momentum being transferred into the star's rotation, possibly counteracting the intrinsic stellar spin-down induced by magnetic braking. Observationally, detecting altered rotational states of single, cool field stars is challenging, as precise ages for such stars are rarely available. Here we present an empirical investigation of the rotation and magnetic activity of a sample of planet-hosting stars that are accompanied by wide stellar companions. Without needing knowledge about the absolute ages of the stars, we test for relative differences in activity and rotation of the planet hosts and their co-eval companions, using X-ray observations to measure the stellar activity levels. Employing three different tidal interaction models, we find that host stars with planets that are expected to tidally interact display elevated activity levels compared to their companion stars. We also find that those activity levels agree with the observed rotational periods for the host stars along the usual rotation-activity relationships, implying that the effect is indeed caused by a tidal interaction and not a purely magnetic interaction which would be expected to affect the stellar activity, but not necessarily the rotation. We conclude that massive, close-in planets have an impact on the stellar rotational evolution, while the smaller, more distant planets do not have a significant influence.

Ilic, N., et al., MNRAS (2022)