White dwarf stars have been used as flux standards for decades, thanks to their staid simplicity. We have empirically tested their photometric stability by analyzing the light curves of 398 high-probability candidates and spectroscopically confirmed white dwarfs observed during the original Kepler mission and later with K2 Campaigns 0-8. We find that the vast majority (>97 per cent) of non-pulsating and apparently isolated white dwarfs are stable to better than 1 per cent in the Kepler bandpass on 1-hr to 10-d timescales, confirming that these stellar remnants are useful flux standards. From the cases that do exhibit significant variability, we caution that binarity, magnetism, and pulsations are three important attributes to rule out when establishing white dwarfs as flux standards, especially those hotter than 30,000 K.
J. Hermes, B. Gaensicke, N. Fusillo, et. al.
Wed, 8 Mar 17
Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS; 7 pages, 4 figures, 2 tables