Context: We present the discovery of J22564-5910, a new type of hot subdwarf (sdB) which shows evidence of gas present in the system and it has shallow, multi-peaked hydrogen and helium lines which vary in shape over time. All observational evidence points towards J22564-5910 being observed very shortly after the merger phase that formed it.

Aims: Using high-resolution, high signal-to-noise spectroscopy, combined with multi-band photometry, Gaia astrometry, and TESS light curves, we aim to interpret these unusual spectral features.

Methods: The photometry, spectra, and light curves were all analysed, and their results were combined in order to support our interpretation of the observations: the likely presence of a magnetic field combined with gas features around the sdB. Based on the triple-peaked H lines, the magnetic field strength was estimated and, by using the SHELLSPEC code, qualitative models of gas configurations were fitted to the observations.

Results: All observations can either be explained by a magnetic field of ∼650 kG, which enables the formation of a centrifugal magnetosphere, or a non-magnetic hot subdwarf surrounded by a circumstellar gas disc or torus. Both scenarios are not mutually exclusive and both can be explained by a recent merger.

Conclusions: J22564-5910 is the first object of its kind. It is a rapidly spinning sdB with gas still present in the system. It is the first post-merger star observed this early after the merger event, and as such it is very valuable system to test merger theories. If the magnetic field can be confirmed, it is not only the first magnetic sdB, but it hosts the strongest magnetic field ever found in a pre-white dwarf object. Thus, it could represent the long sought-after immediate ancestor of strongly magnetic white dwarfs.


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science

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Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © ESO


Binaries: general, Circumstellar matter, Stars: evolution, Stars: magnetic field, Subdwarfs

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Astronomy and Astrophysics