The recent arrival of continuous photometric observations of unprecedented quality from space missions has strongly promoted the study of pulsating stars and caused great interest in the stellar astrophysics community. In the particular case of pulsating white dwarfs, the TESS mission is taking asteroseismology of these compact stars to a higher level, emulating or even surpassing the performance of its predecessor, the Kepler mission. Aims. We present a detailed asteroseismological analysis of six GW Vir stars that includes the observations collected by the TESS mission. Methods. We processed and analyzed TESS observations of RX J2117+3412 (TIC 117070953), HS 2324+3944 (TIC 352444061), NGC 6905 (TIC 402913811), NGC 1501 (TIC 084306468), NGC 2371 (TIC 446005482), and K 1-16 (TIC 233689607). We carried out a detailed asteroseismological analysis of these stars on the basis of PG 1159 evolutionary models that take into account the complete evolution of the progenitor stars. We constrained the stellar mass of these stars by comparing the observed period spacing with the average of the computed period spacings, and we employed the individual observed periods to search for a representative seismological model when possible. Results. In total, we extracted 58 periodicities from the TESS light curves of these GW Vir stars using a standard prewhitening procedure to derive the potential pulsation frequencies. All the oscillation frequencies that we found are associated with g-mode pulsations, with periods spanning from ∼817 s to ∼2682 s. We find constant period spacings for all but one star (K 1-16), which allowed us to infer their stellar masses and constrain the harmonic degree ℓ of the modes. Based on rotational frequency splittings, we derive the rotation period of RX J2117+3412, obtaining a value in agreement with previous determinations. We performed period-to-period fit analyses on five of the six analyzed stars. For four stars (RX J2117+3412, HS 2324+3944, NGC 1501, and NGC 2371), we were able to find an asteroseismological model with masses that agree with the stellar mass values inferred from the period spacings and are generally compatible with the spectroscopic masses. Obtaining seismological models allowed us to estimate the seismological distance and compare it with the precise astrometric distance measured with Gaia. Finally, we find that the period spectrum of K 1-16 exhibits dramatic changes in frequency and amplitude that together with the scarcity of modes prevented us from meaningful seismological modeling of this star. Conclusions. The high-quality data collected by the TESS space mission, considered simultaneously with ground-based observations, provide very valuable input to the asteroseismology of GW Vir stars, similar to the case of other classes of pulsating white dwarf stars. The TESS mission, in conjunction with future space missions and upcoming surveys, will make impressive progress in white dwarf asteroseismology.


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

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Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © ESO


Asteroseismology, Stars: evolution, Stars: interiors, Stars: oscillations, White dwarfs

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Astronomy and Astrophysics