Characterizing eclipsing white dwarf M dwarf binaries from multiband eclipse photometry

Brown, Alex J.; Parsons, Steven G.; Littlefair, Stuart P.; Wild, James F.; Ashley, R. P.; Breedt, E.; Dhillon, V. S.; Dyer, M. J.; Green, M. J.; Kerry, P.; Marsh, T. R.; Pelisoli, I.; Sahman, D. I.
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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With the prevalence of wide-field, time-domain photometric sky surveys, the number of eclipsing white dwarf (WD) systems being discovered is increasing dramatically. An efficient method to follow these up will be key to determining any population trends and finding any particularly interesting examples. We demonstrate that multiband eclipse photometry of binaries containing a WD and an M dwarf can be used to determine the masses and temperatures of the WDs to better than 5 per cent. For the M dwarfs, we measure their parameters to a precision of better than 6 per cent with the uncertainty dominated by the intrinsic scatter of the M dwarf mass-radius relationship. This precision is better than what can typically be achieved with low-resolution spectroscopy. The nature of this method means that it will be applicable to LSST data in the future, enabling direct characterization without follow-up spectroscopy. Additionally, we characterize three new post-common-envelope binaries from their eclipse photometry, finding two systems containing hot helium-core WDs with low-mass companions (one near the brown dwarf transition regime) and a possible detached cataclysmic variable at the lower edge of the period gap.