Tablit, Xavier-Keck-2023

Xavier was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii.  He graduated from Pahoa High School and is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, pursuing degrees in Astronomy and Physics.  Xavier intends to be an astrophysicist, study the cosmos, and inspire others to do the same by contributing to the Hawaii’s scientific community and the world.

Home Island: Big Island of Hawaii

High School: Pahoa High School

Institution when accepted: University of Hawaii at Hilo

Deriving Properties of Eclipsing Binaries from Zwicky Transient Facility Time-Series and Color Data

Project Site: W. M. Keck Observatory, Waimea, HI

Mentor: Chien-Hsiu Lee

Project Abstract:

Eclipsing binaries are stellar systems in which two stars orbit one another.  Possessing an orbital plane that is nearly edge-on to our line-of-sight from Earth, the stars appear to periodically eclipse each other, causing variability in brightness.  With estimates placing the majority of stars as being components of binary systems, the study of such stellar interactions is paramount to the testing and improving of stellar models that can serve as a basis for estimating distances as well as understanding stellar dynamical systems.  In our present age of all-sky surveys, many eclipsing-binary systems have been identified, but much of their time-brightness data (light curves) have yet to be analyzed.  Equipped with a 47-deg2 field-of-view camera, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) scans the entire northern sky with a two-day observation cadence in g, r, and i-bands, surveying for objects that vary in brightness, and making it ideal for identifying eclipsing binaries.  We analyze the largest time-domain survey data taken by ZTF, which contains 49,943 detached binary systems identified by Chen et al. (2020).  Employing procedures by Devor et al. (2008), we first utilized the Detached Eclipsing Binary Light curve fitter (DEBiL) to isolate the detached binaries, as well as determine the relative sizes of the binary components for each system.  We then used the Method for Eclipsing Component Identification (MECI) to acquire pairs of stars that best fit the light-curve shapes from the stellar evolutionary model.  With MECI, we derived basic parameters such as individual stellar masses and estimated distances to each system.  This approach to analyzing binary systems allows for the probing of the large-scale structure of the Milky Way, serving as a valuable tool for assessing distances and mapping out our galaxy.