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Paper: Sirius B: Confronting the Limits of our Understanding of White Dwarfs
Volume: 509, 20th European Workshop on White Dwarfs (EuroWD16)
Page: 383
Authors: Barstow, M. A.; Joyce, S.; Casewell, S. L.; Holberg, J. B.; Bond, H. E.; Burleigh, M. R.
Abstract: Sirius B is the visually brightest and closest of all white dwarfs and we should understand it better than any other. However, as part of a binary system, its proximity to the main sequence companion Sirius A makes it very difficult to observe from the ground. Consequently, detailed study of this white dwarf has relied on a range of space-based observatories, including ROSAT, EUVE, FUSE and HST. Photometry and spectroscopy of exquisite quality and the highest signal-to-noise have been obtained from these missions from which we have been able to study the star in great detail. In principle, the measurements made are the most precise of any white dwarf. Nevertheless, Sirius B remains a challenging object to understand. So far it has proved impossible to compute a self-consistent model atmosphere that can match observations across its full energy distribution. Furthermore, separate determinations of its mass and radius from Balmer line fitting, measurement of the gravitational redshift and astrometry of the binary remain stubbornly in significant disagreement. We examine all the systematic effects that come into play with the various models and measurements and consider what improvements need to be made to finally understand Sirius B and, by implication, many other white dwarfs.
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