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The Search for Black Holes in the Primary Mission of TESS

Presentation #114.03 in the session Stellar-Mass and Galactic Black Holes.

Published onJun 29, 2022
The Search for Black Holes in the Primary Mission of TESS

Stars more massive than ~20 M end their lives as black holes, which suggests that black holes are prevalent in our galaxy and that closest black holes must not be too distant from the Solar System. Most of these black holes are expected to have evaded detection in X-rays or radio waves due to absence of interaction with a nearby stellar companion. However, black holes with detached, but close stellar companions are expected to manifest temporal brightness variations due to periodic tidal distortions, Doppler beaming, and microlensing of the companion. We conduct a homogeneous search for compact objects with stellar companions in time-series photometric data collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). We take into account all three observables in our search, but focus on the self-lensing signature to reduce our false alarm rate. We use all 2-minute cadence targets in the primary mission and the targets in our Cycle 3 guest investigator program selected based on Gaia radial velocity data. We discuss obtained threshold crossing events and assess selection biases introduced in order to computationally accelerate the search. We present injection and recovery tests on simulated TESS light curves and show our predicted yield for the ongoing extended mission (i.e., Cycles 3 and 4). The resulting search is expected to probe the occurrence rate of compact objects with stellar companions in the field and their evolution via common envelope.

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