Magnetism, X-rays and accretion rates in WD1145+017 and other polluted white dwarf systems

J. Farihi*, L. Fossati, P. J. Wheatley, B. D. Metzger, J. Mauerhan, S. Bachman, B. T. Gänsicke, S. Redfield, P. W. Cauley, O. Kochukhov, N. Achilleos, N. Stone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This paper reports circular spectropolarimetry and X-ray observations of several polluted white dwarfs including WD1145+017, with the aim to constrain the behaviour of disc material and instantaneous accretion rates in these evolved planetary systems. Two stars with previously observed Zeeman splitting, WD0322-019 and WD2105-820, are detected above 5s and 〈Bz〉> 1 kG, while WD1145+017, WD1929+011, and WD2326+049 yield (null) detections below this minimum level of confidence. For these latter three stars, high-resolution spectra and atmospheric modelling are used to obtain limits on magnetic field strengths via the absence of Zeeman splitting, finding B* < 20 kG based on data with resolving power R ≈ 40 000. An analytical framework is presented for bulk Earth composition material falling on to the magnetic polar regions of white dwarfs, where X-rays and cyclotron radiation may contribute to accretion luminosity. This analysis is applied to X-ray data for WD1145+017, WD1729+371, and WD2326+049, and the upper bound count rates are modelled with spectra for a range of plasma kT = 1-10 keV in both the magnetic and non-magnetic accretion regimes. The results for all three stars are consistent with a typical dusty white dwarf in a steady state at 108-109 g s-1. In particular, the non-magnetic limits for WD1145+017 are found to be well below previous estimates of up to 1012 g s-1, and likely below 1010 g s-1, thus suggesting the star-disc system may be average in its evolutionary state, and only special in viewing geometry.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)947-960
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Planetary systems
  • Stars: magnetic field
  • White dwarfs
  • X-rays: stars


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