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White Dwarfs as Tracers of Stellar, Binary and Planetary Evolution (WDTracer)
Start date: Apr 1, 2013, End date: Mar 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The vast majority of all stars in the Galaxy will evolve, or already have evolved, into white dwarfs, Earth-sized stellar embers sustained by electron degeneracy, and the study of white dwarfs is essential to many aspects of our understanding regarding the evolution of single and binary stars and of planetary systems. However, because of their intrinsic faintness, the known population of galactic white dwarfs is extremely fragmentary, in fact, we do not even have a complete census of white dwarfs within the nearest 20pc. The aim of this project is to produce the first deep, homogeneous all-sky sample of single and binary white dwarfs. I will achieve this ambitious goal by using the combined wealth of information that ongoing deep surveys, spanning the ultraviolet to mid-infrared, collect for about a billion objects in our Galaxy. My analysis and follow-up study of this new sample will advance our understanding of all aspects of the evolution of white dwarfs by at least an order of magnitude, and will produce answers to a wide range of fundamental questions:* How do white dwarf binaries evolve?* What is the population of Type Ia supernova progenitors?* How many white dwarfs bear the remnants of planetary systems?* What is the chemical composition of extra-solar minor planets?* What is the star formation history of the Galaxy?* How much mass do stars lose during their post-main sequence evolution?
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