Periodic variations in the O-C diagrams of five pulsation frequencies of the DB white dwarf EC 20058-5234

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 13
  • Abstract:

    Variations in the pulsation arrival time of five independent pulsation frequencies of the DB white dwarf EC 20058−5234 individually imitate the effects of reflex motion induced by a planet or companion but are inconsistent when considered in unison. The pulsation frequencies vary periodically in a 12.9 year cycle and undergo secular changes that are inconsistent with simple neutrino plus photon-cooling models. The magnitude of the periodic and secular variations increases with the period of the pulsations, possibly hinting that the corresponding physical mechanism is located near the surface of the star. The phase of the periodic variations appears coupled to the sign of the secular variations. The standards for pulsation-timing-based detection of planetary companions around pulsating white dwarfs, and possibly other variables such as subdwarf B stars, should be re-evaluated. The physical mechanism responsible for this surprising result may involve a redistribution of angular momentum or a magnetic cycle. Additionally, variations in a supposed combination frequency are shown to match the sum of the variations of the parent frequencies to remarkable precision, an expected but unprecedented confirmation of theoretical predictions.