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Beaming-Induced Asymmetry in the Reflection Effect of Compact Hot Subdwarf + Red Dwarf Binaries

Presentation #201.05 in the session Stars, Cool Dwarfs, Brown Dwarfs I.

Published onJul 01, 2023
Beaming-Induced Asymmetry in the Reflection Effect of Compact Hot Subdwarf + Red Dwarf Binaries

Detailed studies of hot subdwarf B stars with red dwarf or brown dwarf companions can shed light on the effects of binarity on late stellar evolution. Such systems exhibit a strong, quasi-sinusoidal reflection effect due to irradiation of the cool companion, and some even show primary and secondary eclipses. Before space-based photometric surveys, light curves of sdB+dM/BD binaries were rarely subjected to Fourier analyses due to the limited number of orbits they were observed and complicated window functions from daytime and seasonal observing gaps. Continuous 27+ day observations from TESS make such an analysis fruitful for a large number of objects for the first time. Here we compute Fourier transforms of TESS light curves of sdB+dM/BD binaries and investigate correlations between the relative amplitudes and phases of their harmonics and system parameters. We show that the reflection effect shape strongly depends on the orbital inclination, with nearly face-on systems having much more sinusoidal shapes than nearly edge-on systems. This information is encoded by the relative strength of the first harmonic in the Fourier transform. By comparing observations of solved systems to synthetic light curves generated by LCURVE, we find that the inclination of non-eclipsing systems with high S/N light curves can be determined to within 10 degrees simply by measuring their orbital periods and first harmonic strengths. We also discover a slight asymmetry in the reflection effect shape of sdB+dM/BD binaries using the relative phase of the first harmonic. From our analysis of synthetic light curves, we conclude that this asymmetry results from relativistic beaming of both stellar components. This marks the first time Doppler beaming has been detected in sdB+dM/BD systems. Although advanced modeling is necessary to quantify the effects of secondary parameters like limb darkening, the temperature ratio, and the radius ratio on the reflection effect shape, our pilot study demonstrates that it might be possible to extract both the inclination angle and cool companion velocity from the light curves of non-eclipsing systems.

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