We present 4.5 and 8 µm photometric observations of 18 cool white dwarfs obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Our observations demonstrate that four white dwarfs with Teᶠᶠ < 6000 K show slightly depressed mid-infrared fluxes relative to white dwarf models. In addition, another white dwarf with a peculiar optical and near-infrared spectral energy distribution (LHS 1126) is found to display significant flux deficits in Spitzer observations. These mid-infrared flux deficits are not predicted by the current white dwarf models including collision-induced absorption due to molecular hydrogen. We postulate that either the collision-induced absorption calculations are incomplete or there are other unrecognized physical processes occurring in cool white dwarf atmospheres. The spectral energy distribution of LHS 1126 surprisingly fits a Rayleigh-Jeans spectrum in the infrared, mimicking a hot white dwarf with effective temperature well in excess of 105 K. This implies that the source of this flux deficit is probably not molecular absorption but some other process.
The Astrophysical Journal
Institute of Physics Publishing, Inc.
Grant or Award Name
NASA grant NAG5-13070
Scholarly Commons Citation
Kilic, M., von Hippel, T., & al., e. (2006). The Mystery Deepens: Spitzer Observations of Cool White Dwarfs. The Astrophysical Journal, 656(2). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/264
Dr. von Hippel was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time this paper was published.