Friday, May 6, 2016

Did the Cool White Dwarf NLTT19868 eat a Terrestial Exoplanet?

Extreme abundance ratios in the polluted atmosphere of the cool white dwarf NLTT19868


Kawka et al


We present an analysis of intermediate-dispersion spectra and photometric data of the newly identified cool, polluted white dwarf NLTT19868. The spectra obtained with X-shooter on the Very Large Telescope (VLT)-Melipal show strong lines of calcium, and several lines of magnesium, aluminium and iron. We use these spectra and the optical-to-near infrared spectral energy distribution to constrain the atmospheric parameters of NLTT19868. Our analysis shows that NLTT19868 is iron poor with respect to aluminium and calcium. A comparison with other cool, polluted white dwarfs shows that the Fe to Ca abundance ratio (Fe/Ca) varies by up to approximately two orders of magnitudes over a narrow temperature range with NLTT19868 at one extremum in the Fe/Ca ratio and, in contrast, NLTT888 at the other extremum. The sample shows evidence of extreme diversity in the composition of the accreted material: In the case of NLTT888, the inferred composition of the accreted matter is akin to iron-rich planetary core composition, while in the case of NLTT19868 it is close to mantle or bulk-Earth composition depleted by subsequent chemical separation at the bottom of the convection zone.

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