AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 37. White Dwarfs and Friends
Display, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibits Hall 1

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[37.02] The Texas Deep Sky Survey: Spectroscopy of Cool Degenerate Stars

C. F. Claver (NOAO), D. E. Winget, R. E. Nather, P. J. MacQueen (U. Texas and McDonald Obs.)

The Texas Deep Sky Survey (TDSS) is a deep multi-color photometric survey in the direction of the North Galactic Pole. The purpose of the TDSS is to study large scale structure in the Universe and the stellar content of the Galaxy, specifically the cool end of the white dwarf luminosity function (WDLF). The TDSS will ultimately cover 100 square degrees in broadband U, B, V, RC, {\rm and} IC plus two intermediate width filters centered on MgH and CaH to a depth of V=22. At present we have covered 100 square degrees in B and RC and a 2.12\times2.12 degree area in all seven bandpasses.

Our aim of the white dwarf survey within the TDSS project is to increase, by an order of magnitude over present estimates, the number of objects used to define the WDLF below log(L/L\odot)~3.0. The WDLF contains important information about the Galaxy, namely its age and star formation history, and the physics of condensed matter. However, because of their intrinsic faintness the number of cool white dwarfs presently used to define the low luminosity end of the WDLF is small, hence does not provide a meaningful constraint on theoretical models. Here we report on our initial WIYN multi-object spectroscopy of cool white dwarf candidates from a single TDSS field using a new photometric selection technique developed for finding cool degenerate stars. We describe the process of using MgH and CaH filters for selecting cool white dwarfs in the field and show its success with the discovery of 5 new spectroscopically confirmed cool white dwarfs stars.

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